By Emily Malloy
Goodness, where to even begin with turkey, the apex of Thanksgiving? Aside from the floral centerpiece, turkey serves as a true centerpiece of the day. Simply put, Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without that delectable main course. For a lot of folks, it is a great source of stress because of this fact. It does not have to be that way. I promise.
My preference for cooking, particularly on a day in which juggling is the norm, is to fix it and forget it, somewhat.
There have been so many fun and creative ways to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I am fairly certain I have tried them all, but sometimes a low-maintenance, simply delicious way is best. I am sure you are noticing a theme to this Theology of Home Thanksgiving menu!
At TOH, we've branded this roasted turkey type as "butter-basting." Butter does the basting, so that you don't have to! So, you can truly fix it and forget it. No need for simultaneously working timers and alarms to account for elapsed time between basting and total time cooking.
Opening the door to the oven tends to dry out the bird, so we often work against ourselves in the process of basting. Rubbing the herb butter underneath the skin directly onto the meat imparts and locks in that moisture. Covering with foil helps prevent overbrowning, as well.
Finally, and most importantly, giving the turkey enough time to thaw will aid most in ensuring even cooking. Thaw it in the fridge, giving 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey.
My fear of turkey-cooking-days are long behind with this method. I am certain that yours will be too.
Simple Roasted (Butter-Basted) Turkey
Yields: 15+ servings (depending upon size of turkey)
Time: 3+ hours (depending upon size of turkey)
--for the herb butter rub:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
--for the turkey
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 apple, cut into quarters
A few stems of herbs from the herb butter: thyme, rosemary, and/or sage
Salt and pepper
1. Allow the thawed turkey to come to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking.
2. Make the herb butter by mixing all of the ingredients in a small bowl until well-combined.
3. Place an oven rack to the second half of the oven, so that the turkey will easily fit and sit in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325*F.
4. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity and using paper towels, pat the turkey dry.
5. Season the inside and outside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the onion, lemon, and apple quarters, as well as the herb stems.
6. Carefully use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat, beginning with the breasts. Grab fingerfuls of the herbed butter mixture and liberally rub under the skin. If you are able to poke through onto the legs to spread the butter mixture, then do so.
7. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and place onto a roasting rack within a roasting pan. Melt the remaining herb butter and, using a pastry brush, brush the entire outside of the turkey. Cover with tented foil and remove during the last hour of cooking to lightly crisp the skin.
8. Roast the turkey according to the above chart (typically it is about 13 to 15 minutes per pound) or until internal temperature of turkey breast reaches 165*F.
9. Remove from the oven, cover again with foil, and allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
Printable recipe found here!