It’s almost Christmas!! And for me nothing says Christmas dinner like turkey (with all of the fixings of course!). It is my favourite holiday meal, which I look forward to every year for both the meal itself and who doesn’t love turkey leftovers?? (Expect a turkey soup recipe in January!)
If you find turkey daunting, don’t worry. Brine the turkey beforehand, check the temperature with a thermometer when turning the turkey and tent it with tinfoil if it gets too brown. For extra flavour and to keep the turkey moist, you can also place bacon strips on top!
For this recipe, DO NOT use Butterball or pre-brined turkeys, trust me, turkey the way that nature intended it is so much better. Check the labels to see if there is any sodium to tell if it has been pre-brined.
For those of you on a budget where the cost of a whole turkey may be a bit much, try a utility turkey as a more cost effective alternative. They are often sold at a discounted price and may be missing a limb but they’ll taste just as good as more expensive turkeys.
1 large turkey (defrosted)
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes*, halved
4 onions*, quartered
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
For brining the turkey:
1 cup coarse salt
2 cups brown sugar
Approximately 8 L of water (enough to cover the turkey)
For the lemon butter:
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (2 large)
2 tbs dried oregano
1 1/2 tbs grated lemon zest
*You can use any other root vegetables that you have on hand. My other personal favourites are carrots and parsnips.
Special Equipment: Large roasting pan, turkey baster, cooler/container to brine turkey in, kitchen twine
Before you get started, check the body cavity of the turkey for the organs (usually all contained within a small plastic bag). Be sure to remove this bag BEFORE you brine the turkey.
To brine the turkey, place it in a large container (large enough to fit your turkey – I use a cooler). Add salt and sugar. Fill with cold water to cover turkey. This can also be done to help defrost turkey as well. Ensure that the water temperature is below 4°C and cover with a tight fitting lid (I leave my cooler on the deck when its cold outside). Brine for up to 3 days.
Once ready to cook the turkey, preheat the oven to 450F.
Rinse the turkey and pat dry (inside and out). Sprinkle the inside of the turkey cavity with salt (about 1/2 tsp).
Stir together all of the ingredients for the lemon butter together in a small bowl.
Starting over the breasts, gently slide your fingers between the skin and meat of the breast to loosen it. Repeat with the legs. Disperse about 2 tbs of butter mixture under the skin of each breast and about 1 tsp of mixture on each drumstick. Melt remaining butter in the microwave in 15 second increments and pour over the turkey.
Fold the neck skin and front wings under the body of the turkey and tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Place turkey on roasting pan.
Place assorted vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan and fill with 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Place turkey in oven and roast for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, reduce temperature to 350F. Remove turkey from oven and baste with juices below. If there are no juices, baste with more chicken stock. Rotate turkey 180 degrees and return to oven. Roast for another 30 mins. Every 30 mins, remove the turkey from the oven to rotate and baste. After an hour of cooking test the turkey with a thermometer to determine when until fully cooked (see notes below for cooking times based on weight). If turkey becomes too brown, tent with tinfoil for remaining time.
To test the temperature of the turkey, test the breast and leg temperature with a thermometer to ensure everywhere reaches 165F. Be careful not to let the thermometer touch the bone (will give an inaccurate reading). Return to oven until turkey is 165F.
Once cooked, remove from oven and tent with tinfoil. Let rest for 15-20 mins. Carve and serve with your choice of sides and roasted vegetables form the bottom of the pan.
For cooking times, please refer to epicurious’ chart below. Use this as a guideline, as depending on how your oven is celebrated, it may take less time.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine