Monday, January 12, 2009

Oven Roasted Hen or Turkey with Buttery Pan Sauce

How to oven roast a large hen or turkey.
How to oven roast a large hen or turkey.

Oven Roasted Hen or Turkey with Buttery Pan Sauce

This post was written for open roasting (meaning not covered or wrapped) and using a 7 pound hen, but it is the same basics for roasting a turkey, so everything pretty much applies to a bigger bird.

While you're here, be sure to check out my other posts for how to brine, how to truss a bird, and also click here for some holiday side dishes like, Homemade Herb DressingParslied Corn, Carottes Glacées, Maple Glazed Baby Carrots, Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese, Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole and other southern favorites.

So, how about this "vintage" Corningware Cornflower pattern roasting pan, eh? I told ya'll I have some old dishes and I wasn't kiddin' ... I meant old, and not passed down old either. Nope, like many of my kitchen things, I've had this one since the late 70s and I still use it all the time. This one works great for roasts, chickens and large hens.

I do now have this proper stainless roasting pan (pictured below) and I LOVE it for roasting my larger turkeys. While it's not one of those heavy-duty, commercial grade high dollar roasters, it's an excellent and heavy 18/10 stainless roaster ... and a little less expensive - check it out! I still love my old vintage pan, but I finally got a large enough pan that I can do a large turkey in, yay!

Calphalon 6-Inch Roaster with Nonstick Roasting Rack

But, back to this bird ... you're going to need to start with some salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and a large lemon. (If you brine, skip the salt.)  I used dried rosemary but use fresh if you have it. Slice that lemon up fairly thin and set it aside.

Smash up the garlic, discard the peeling and set the garlic aside too.

Then combine the salt (skip if you brine), pepper and rosemary in a small bowl and pour it into the cavity of the bird, rubbing it all over inside.

Now, toss the lemon and garlic into the cavity.

Truss the bird up nicely.

Then place it into the roasting pan and slather the butter all over it.

Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. (Remember to skip the salt if you brined!)

Stick in the preheated 350 degree F oven and roast, basting with the pan juices occasionally. Remove and let rest; slice and pour a little bit of the pan juices, or homemade gravy, on top of each serving and enjoy!

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Recipe: Oven Roasted Hen

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 2 hour 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 instant read thermometer (this is essential!)
  • 1 (approx. 7 pound) roasting hen
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 20 grinds of the pepper mill (skip the salt if you brine)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Cotton twine, well soaked with water
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, plus 1 extra tablespoon for the pan sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine salt, pepper and rosemary in a small bowl; set aside. If you have brined your bird omit the salt.

Remove giblet package from bird; save for giblet gravy or discard. Rinse the bird well, inside and out and set aside in the roasting pan, or on a platter or tray. Using some paper towels, pat the bird dry inside and out. Let sit at room temperature to fully dry for a few minutes.

Smash and peel the garlic; set aside. Slice the lemon into fairly thin slices; set aside. Set aside the butter. Pour the salt mixture into the cavity of the bird, rubbing it all around inside. Add the garlic and lemon slices. Truss the bird and place into a roasting pan, breast side up. Rub all over with the softened butter. Sprinkle bird all over with the additional kosher salt and black pepper.

Roast uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes per pound for unstuffed bird, or until the internal temperature reads 180 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. Start checking at least 30 minutes before anticipated finish time. If you pierce the thigh muscle with a large tined fork, the juices should run out clear and should not be reddish-pink in color. Baste the bird occasionally, about every 30 minutes or so, with the pan juices during cooking.

Remove from the oven and transfer the bird to a cutting board to rest for a minimum of 10 minutes. While the bird is resting, make pan sauce. Place the roasting pan on the stove top and skim off any fat that has floated to the top. Ideally, use a fat separator and return the pan juices only back to the roasting pan, discarding the rest of the fat. Place the roasting pan over medium high heat and bring the juices to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to release browned bits on the bottom. Cook until the juices have reduced about half. Remove from the heat, stir in a bit of butter and swirl around until blended in. Rather make gravy? Click here for a gravy guideline or go straight to the giblet gravy.

Cook's Notes:

Turkey Aromatics: This recipe was written using a 7 pound hen, but applies to any size bird. If you are roasting a large turkey, simply add additional seasonings and butter as needed, but don't increase the garlic or lemon. Additional aromatics you can use with an unstuffed turkey include apple, onion, celery, including the leafy tops, bay leaves, fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme or sage. I also highly recommend adding aromatics underneath the turkey. Add enough chicken broth to coat the bottom of the roasting pan, so that they don't burn. Put the rack in and put your turkey on top.

Brining: If you have the time, prepare the bird for soaking in a brine 8 to 12 hours before you plan to roast it. A brine will help to produce a very moist and tender bird, however, you can also achieve this by carefully watching the internal temperature of your bird in the final 30 to 45 minutes of cooking and by not overcooking it also. Your bird should register 180 degrees F on the thickest part of the thigh when it is ready. It will also rest for at least ten minutes before you carve it, and will continue cooking during that time so you'll want to remove it from the oven just as it hits this temperature, or even slightly before since it will continue to cook for a bit after you remove it from the oven. Omit the salt in the cavity if you brine.

Stuffing: If you are cooking a bird stuffed with dressing rather than the aromatics listed here, do not pack the stuffing in the cavity. Instead, heat the stuffing to warm it, and place it in the cavity of the bird loosely in order to allow room for expansion and for the heat to flow through. Use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. The stuffing in the deepest, most central part of the stuffing, must reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.


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