Two recipes in one week? It’s a Turkey Day miracle! Well somewhat. Even though stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, it would be remiss of me to not include a recipe for the star of Turkey day—the bird itself.
Turkey is frustrating. If you don’t cook it well, it becomes very dry and loses a lot of its flavor, especially since turkey doesn’t really have much flavor to start with, at least in my honest opinion. But, in my four years of hosting Friendsgiving and even two years hosting my own mini-Thanksgiving, I think I’ve finally nailed the perfect turkey recipe.
When I first started hosting Friendsgiving, I started off with a turkey breast since it was smaller and easier to work with, but as my guest list grew, so did the size of the bird. Last year, I cooked my first full Thanksgiving bird for Friendsgiving, and it was a hit. This year, I tried to replicate it and I think this year’s bird was even better than last year’s!
Though the struggle this year was finding a frozen turkey early enough that I had time to defrost the darn thing. Giant didn’t start carrying either fresh or frozen birds until the day I was hosting my party but thankfully the great almighty Target had my back. The Monday before my party, I was able to get my hands on about a 16 ½ pound frozen turkey to just chill in my fridge for the next week. I thought by the time Saturday rolled around it would be completely defrosted, but I was wrong. Still had some frozen bits but nothing running it under water in the sink couldn’t fix.
This recipe is one I found on Bon Appetit and adapted it for my own Friendsgiving use. Even though I don’t have a meat thermometer, using the cooking calculator from Butterball, I was able to plan out my cooking schedule pretty accurately (I’m also very Type A so I had a whole schedule of when to prep everything, baste the turkey, cook, down to the last minute where I assumed my guests would arrive at 5/5:30.
When prepping the turkey, don't be afraid to get your hands messy. Really rub that butter mixture all up that turkey's business. It will add so much flavor and make your bird look so pretty and golden brown, especially with an added olive oil drizzle. And with the quartered citrus and herbs that I've jammed into the cavity, you're guaranteed to have a flavorful centerpiece to the table.
Overall, this turkey tasted delicious! Especially slathered in gravy, which I am not good at making by any means. My friends enjoyed it nonetheless. And my friend David helped me carve because I also have no clue how to do that elegantly. He carved it so well I was left with a bare-bone carcass that I used to make broth with the next day. We gobble gobble gobbled down this turkey like it was nobody’s business.
Herb Roasted Turkey
Serves about 15
1 14-16 pound turkey, thawed with neck and giblets removed
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced rosemary
1 tablespoon minced thyme
1 tablespoon minced sage
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered,
1 orange, quartered
1 celery stalk, quartered
Sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and sage
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups dry white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc work well)
An hour before cooking, let turkey come to room temperature. Once the turkey is at room temp, pat the entire bird (inside the cavity too) dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a food processor, pulse together butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper until well combined and smooth. Rub the butter mixture all over turkey—the top, bottom, under the skin, and inside the cavity.
Stuff turkey cavity with the quartered lemon, onion, orange, celery, and herb sprigs. Tuck the wings of the turkey if necessary. Pour a tablespoon of olive on top of the turkey.
Pour the water and wine into the roasting pan.
Roast the turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 325° and baste the turkey with the pan juices.
Continue roasting the bird, basting, and rotating every 30 minutes. If the skin on top starts to brown too much, tent it with aluminum foil.
Roast for an additional 3 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird reads 165°.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Carve and have a great Thanksgiving