Monday, November 19, 2012

Traditional Herb Roasted Turkey

As you know, this past weekend Mr. Cozy and I celebrated our Thanksgiving with the family!  They were gracious enough to offer to come up for the weekend and basically bring our Thanksgiving traditions to us, because my husband won't be off on Thanksgiving day.  We live about 3 1/2 hours away, so what a truly delight it was for my family to drive up here for dinner!!! 
For the first time ever, I hosted Thanksgiving!  It was a blast from the very beginning.  I loved going grocery shopping for it all with Mr. Cozy, preparing our home for family, the dining room for a nice dinner, making chocolates, and all the while having Christmas music wafting through the house!  I'll have another post soon about more of the evening along with more pictures.
I made my very first turkey! 
I'm not going to lie...I was kind of nervous.  I've roasted a chicken before, but this is so much larger, and I wanted the turkey to be moist, delicious and cooked through for such a special occasion!  I really wanted to make the night as special as possible for our family. 
(These pictures were quickly taken before devouring the food!  So much excitement was happening around me, that I didn't get a good chance to take fantastic pictures of the turkey.  I don't think about food pictures as much when in times like this.  I hope you can still see how yummy it looked!!) 
With much researching, I came up with a plan for my turkey. This recipe is one inspired by the latest Southern Living turkey recipe and some advice from others.  It turned out amazing...thank you, Jesus! :)
I will start off by saying that I did some prep work on the turkey the day before. You don't have to do this ahead of time, but because I wanted to make things easy on myself the day of, it worked best for me!
I bought a 11.5 lb. fresh turkey, although I found out I could have bought an even larger one for 7 people.  If I host again, it will be more around 13-14 lbs, but we still had a little meat left over.  I rinsed and dried the turkey and stuffed the cavity the day before.  I wanted to stuff it with aromatics to flavor it from the inside out, and to make the gravy extra delicious.  (It was so easy to do this!)  I squeezed a lemon inside and put lots of salt and pepper.  Next I added one bulb of garlic, onion and couple celery stalks, with a bunch of fresh poultry herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme).  You can easily find fresh poultry herbs packaged together in the produce at the grocery.  This combination of herbs will make your turkey succulent and flavorful!
I slathered under the skin some herb-butter I made and let it rest overnight in the fridge.  The next day--the "big" day--I took it out of the fridge about an hour before cooking.  I did a drizzle of olive oil,  rubbed more herb butter all over the outside and gave it a good dusting of freshly ground black pepper and salt.  I did use some kitchen string to tie the wings close to the bird, but that's completely optional and only to make it look nice.  I also put a couple of small pieces of foil wrapped around the wing tips to keep them from burning.  Now, the turkey was ready to roast!
I started it out in the oven set on 400 degrees and roasted it there for about 15 minutes, then turned the heat down to 325 for about almost 3 hours or until it reached 165-170 degrees with a meat thermometer.  After turning the temp down, I basted it a couple times.  I did find I needed to add a little chicken broth to the pan to cook with the juices, so I would have more to baste with.  Once I took the turkey out for good, I basted once more before transferring it to the platter and covering with foil.  I took it out of the pan right away so I could use the dripping to the cook the gravy.
(If this all sounds scary, I assure you that it's not!!!  If I can do it, so can you....)
I let it rest about 30 minutes before Papa cut us some beautiful moist pieces.  It's tradition in our family for him to cut the turkey, and he always does a great job!
Roasted golden, tender and delicious, this turkey recipe turned out beautifully!  The butter and herbs really keep the meat moist, and the gravy we made using the pan drippings was rich and savory!!  I'm happy to say that I've now successfully roasted my first turkey, which I think is a milestone in my cooking life. :)
Traditional Herb Roasted Turkey
11-12 lb. Fresh turkey
1 lemon
1 bulb garlic, skin on and halved length-wise
1 onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 pkg. Fresh poultry herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme), divided
1/4-1/3 c. Butter, room temperature
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Chicken broth, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
1. Remove the neck and giblets.Wash and rinse the inside and outside of the bird.  Pat the outside dry.    I placed my turkey on a rack inside a large roasting pan.
2. To make the herb butter, start by putting the softened butter in a bowl.  Take a little of all three fresh herbs and chop up together.  Add this to the butter with a dash of salt. Mix together well and set the herb butter aside.
3. Squeeze the juice of one lemon in the cavity and shower inside with salt and pepper.  Stuff in the garlic, onion, celery and fresh herbs.
4. Gently using your fingers, pry the skin up a bit on the breast of the turkey. Put some butter on your hands and rub the butter as far down the breast as you can go without tearing the skin.  You're rubbing it directly on the turkey meat.
5.  Drizzle just a bit of extra virgin olive oil all over outside, and take the remaining butter and rub all over the turkey skin.  Breast, legs, get the picture!  This savory butter flavors it and makes it brown and crispy!  Salt and pepper all over. 
6.  If you decide to, with kitchen string to tie the wings close to the body of the turkey and secure with a knot at the top.  (You'll cut this off before serving.)  Use a bit of foil to wrap the wing tips.
7.  Place in the oven to roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, then without opening the oven, turn the heat down to 325 degrees F.  After about 30 minutes start basting occasionally.  I cooked it until the internal temperature reached about 165-170 degrees F (or about 2 hr. 45 minutes longer). 
8. Take out of the oven, baste once more and transfer to a platter.  Cover with foil to rest for about 30 minutes. I used a huge bunch of parsley for a quick garnish around the turkey, but I really love the looks of huge bunches of red and green grapes around.
I'm proud to show off my first turkey as I show off my arm strength holding this for pictures! :) There's no greater joy than preparing food you love for the people you love!
 I'm linking up with:


Angel said...

I have to say BRAVO on a job well done! Looks absolutely delicious!

Blondie's Journal said...

Well done! You have some really great ideas here and I just might try the herb butter. Happy Thanksgiving!


Dewena Callis said...

Congratulations! You did it! I knew you could. I don't know which was prettier, you or the turkey!

Joan said...

Great job and the turkey looks delicious!