Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Roasted Turkey and a Happy Thanksgiving to You!

Oven Roasted Turkey

How to Roast a Turkey

If you think this sounds yummy, I'd sure it if you'd click to pin it, tweet it, stumble it, or share it on Facebook to help spread the word - thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving! We are lucky to spend these major holidays with family every year, so I don't host the typical large spread at my home. I do, however, always do a little mini spread either before or after the main event, just for The Cajun and me, where I roast a turkey and do some of my favorite sides, including homemade turkey gravy from the drippings (sometimes with giblets, sometimes without), homemade mashed potatoes and dressing at the very least. What else I add depends on my mood, or if I'm trying something new.

I'll try to expand on this post more at another time to make it more of a standard recipe format, but wanted to share what I did with my turkey this year, just in case it might be helpful to anybody... even at this eleventh hour!
  • I bought a 15 pound turkey for us this year, left it in the fridge for several days for thawing, then finished with a sink thaw for about 4 hours when I was ready to cook, changing out the water out about every 30 minutes.
  • I removed the neck and giblets and used a stockpot that would fit into my refrigerator to brine the turkey. My brine was enough water to cover the turkey, plus 1 cup of kosher salt, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, dried thyme, whole peppercorns and a small bunch of sage. I let the turkey rest in the brine, in the fridge, all day.
  • Before I went to bed, I removed the turkey from the brine, rinsed it well inside and out, patted dry with paper towels, inside and out and set it inside a baker, uncovered, in the fridge overnight to dry. Just make sure the raw turkey doesn't touch the fridge walls, other food or anything else in the fridge.
  • Since I was using a roasting pan with a rack to open roast my turkey, next day, I poured 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of apple cider in the bottom of my roaster, adding large chunks of carrots, celery, and onion and a sprig of rosemary as my aromatics under the rack. I placed the turkey on the rack, rubbed freshly cracked black pepper all in the cavity, and filled the cavity with chopped onion, sliced lemon, a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a sprig of fresh sage and rosemary. Fill the cavity with your choice of aromatics, but loosely so there is room for the heat to circulate through, so don't pack it tight. It's going to depend on how large a turkey you use, but generally just peel and quarter one large onion, slice up one lemon, add in 2 or 3 smashed garlic cloves and a sprig of fresh sage and rosemary if you have it fresh, couple teaspoons if you're using dried. If you're not placing aromatics under the turkey, you may add those in the cavity too.
  • I used a Butterball brand turkey, which comes with the legs nicely tucked so didn't need to truss. I just turned the wing tips under the turkey and used 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of softened butter to smear all over it. I did not separate the skin and rub any butter underneath the skin.
  • I open roasted the turkey in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 40 minutes, removed it, turned the heat down to 350 degrees F, basted the turkey with the drippings, and returned it to the oven for about 17 minutes per pound, about 4-1/4 hours total, until the thickest part of the thigh was at 180 degrees F. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests. I am in the turkey baster camp, so I did baste the turkey about every 30 minutes or so. I don't reach into an open oven to baste leaving the oven door wide open though - I remove the turkey, baste it with the pan drippings, and then rotate the roasting pan around each time before returning it to the oven.
  • Halfway through the roasting, I added another cup of chicken stock to the pan and once the turkey got to the color I liked, I sprayed a piece of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and just loosely tented the top of the turkey with it to let it finish cooking.
  • I let the turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving while I made the gravy. Have at the ready 2 to 3 cups of additional chicken stock that you have warmed. Carefully pour the pan drippings into a grease separator if you have one. Spoon off 1/3 cup of the fat from the top and return it to the roasting pan to make gravy, or add the fat to a separate skillet if you don't want to make gravy in the roasting pan. Heat over medium high heat, gradually stirring in 1/3 cup of all purpose flour. Cook the roux out for about 3 minutes, then slowly begin to incorporate the drippings from the fat separator, cooking and stirring until well blended. Add more turkey or chicken stock as needed to correct consistency to your liking. Taste first, then add salt and pepper only as needed and serve immediately.
I was more than thrilled with the results! Not only was the turkey juicy and very flavorful, but also just the added bit of apple cider in the pan with the aromatics made for the best turkey gravy I have ever made.

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I just want to express my gratitude for all of you. Thank you for visiting my little site here, for having confidence in my recipes, and for being a part of this experience here and on the Facebook page. Thank you for your friendship, for your sweet comments and heartwarming emails sharing bits and pieces of yourselves and for the tears we sometimes share together. You are all truly a joy and I am grateful to have met you. Go. Enjoy your family and make some memories. Food. Family. Memories. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Love and hugs, Mary

Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.

Posted by on November 23, 2011
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  1. Happy Thanksgiving my friend! Anne

  2. I love the apple cider idea! Sounds delicious!

  3. The turkey and gravy both sound outstanding - have a terrific day.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu and blessings, Flavia

  5. That's a mighty good lookin' turkey!!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving! I love your blog. You cook most like what I grew up with and the way I cook. My aunt and uncle had a catering business in Jackson, MS and a lot of what I do is what she taught me when I was a teenager.

  7. Happy Thanksgiving, Mary! Hope you & your family enjoy the day! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes with us! You are an inspiration to all of us!

  8. Mary, Happy Thanksgiving....I'm sure your home smells wonderful, mine is winding up, and soon that luscious aroma will be wafting blessed.....thank you for your time, and long distance friendship....

    Faith at crochet by the sea

  9. Happy Thanksgiving Day, love your blog, you are so sweet and love your family and friends and cook, bake and roast like no other I have read in the many food blogs I frequent, may God truly Bless you in this life, and yours too! ciao mjs from washington state brrr..rains and is cloudy here most 300 days brrr. snow in the mountains ski season opened last week. oh, my!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Thank you so much everybody! I am SO full of amazing food it's sinful, but I am especially grateful for the time with my family the past few days and for all the wonderful friends in my life, including all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Nice looking bird, Mary. Hope the day was special, sounds like it was.

  12. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for the time and effort you put in here. My family and I certainly appreciate it. Your work here affords us with a lot of wonderful time together in the kitchen and around the table (and in front of the tv, lol).

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!

  14. Hi there Mary. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to you and your family. Your roasted turkey recipe sounds scrumptious! Love it! We can prepare this for Christmas as well. Thanks for sharing ;)

  15. I hope that you had the most delicious and Happy Thanksgiving Mary! Thanks for your kind comment over on my blog; I've been very absent from blogging in the last two months as I have taken on so many increased responsibilities on campus. All for good though; I really needed to crank it up a notch to avoid boredom! Your turkey looks so scrumptious! Mmmm! I did a smaller turkey this year too and am so glad that I did! I'll keep in touch and hope you do too! And now onto the Christmas preparations . . . . ! xoxo Roz

  16. Your turkey came out beautifully. Thanks for sharing.


  17. Thank you, Mary, for all of your time and effort in posting your fabulous recipes!!! I pray that you and your family have a lovely Thanksgiving!! :)

    1. Thank you so much Bonnie - Happy Thanksgiving!

  18. Bonnie you recipes bring back thoughts of the South to me and this season I'll be using both your turkey and brown sugar with mustard and cola ham and several others although must stay true to some traditions. So excited to have fond your site!

  19. I'm so happy to have you here Bambi & Happy Thanksgiving in advance - though I'm sure it'll be here before we know it!!

  20. Moistest turkey ever! Whole family agrees. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you.

    1. You're very welcome Amy! Thanks for letting me know you tried it & Happy Thanksgiving to you too!


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