This year, in honor of the upcoming holiday, OXO has asked me to share my ultimate turkey recipe with you, along with a fabulous giveaway of the most ultimate turkey tools a cook could ask for! Keep an eye out for these amazing tools in the post, and then learn how YOU can win a set too!
(Are you ready for a long post? If not, go grab a snack. I’ll wait.)
This, in my opinion, is THE ultimate turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the Thanksgiving turkey I’ve made for my family for years, and we are never disappointed. The combination of a flavorful brine bath for my beloved bird, and then the secret weapon herb butter rub down results in the most tender, delicious turkey ever. The end result is worth the work…and none of the work is very hard, and most of it is done ahead of time. If you host Thanksgiving dinner, you know that dishes you can make ahead sometimes make all the difference between a delightful meal, and pure insanity.
A few days before Thanksgiving hits, I get going on my herb butter. This doesn’t take long to throw together, and it’s so very worth it.
I start by gathering my ingredients.
As my butter softens, I finely chop up a hefty dose of flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme leaves and fresh sage.
I also mince up a couple of shallots. The shallots go into a small skillet along with one tablespoon of the butter, just to soften up for a few minutes. Then, I deglaze the pan with a little bit of white wine, and let that evaporate. Once that’s gone, I add in my chopped herbs. They cook just a couple of minutes in the wine-butter shallots, and then I remove the fragrant mixture from the heat and allow it to cool.
Can you imagine how good this smells? It’s a little crazy how amazing it is.
Once the herb-shallot mixture is completely cool, I whip it into the softened butter with my mixer. Then, I wrap it in plastic wrap, squeeze it into a bar shape, and store it in the fridge until it’s time to roast the bird! (**The butter can be made up to one week ahead of time and kept in the fridge, or up to two months ahead of time and frozen!)
The next piece in my perfect bird puzzle is the brine. If you’ve never brined a turkey before, you really owe it to your taste buds to try. It’s amazing what a little salt water and aromatics can do for a plain little turkey.
You can successfully brine a turkey in nothing but slightly sugared salt water, but why stop there? This is a great opportunity to build the flavor of your bird, and really get him in tip-top flavor shape. I like to use kosher salt, pure maple syrup (in place of sugar), sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest.
For a fifteen pound turkey, I brought five quarts of water to a boil, along with the all of these wonderful, tasty fall flavors. This needs to be done a couple of days before you want to serve your turkey.
I let the mixture simmer for five minutes, and then removed the pot from the heat. I let the brine sit out to cool to room temperature, and then popped the lid on the pot and put it in the fridge to chill for 24 hours.
The next day, I placed my cleaned turkey breast-side down in doubled up turkey-sized oven bags. (You can find these with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.) I carefully poured that amazing brine over the turkey, gathered the excess bag up, and tied the bag tight. Then, to make sure the brine was in contact with as much of the bird as possible, I put the turkey bag in my largest soup pot.
He fit in there nice and snug, and from there, the pot went into my fridge until the next day…when we would talk some serious turkey!
When Turkey Day arrived (Turkey Day always arrives a little earlier in November for food bloggers than the rest of the country. The best part is, we get it again later on!), it was time to put all of that prep work to good use!
While I preheated my oven, I removed my turkey from the brine, rinsed the bird off, and gave it a good pat down with paper towels before putting it in my roasting pan.
Then, I got the herb butter out of the fridge and sliced it into quarter-inch thick slices. I ran my hands between the breast meat and the skin of the bird, to create some space, and then slid the slices of the butter in all over the breasts, and down in between the legs and skin as well.
(My husband modeled this process for me…my arms aren’t that hairy!)
Once all of the butter was in, I gave the turkey a good massage, to help break up that butter and spread it all over and into every bit of that bird that I could. Then, I sprinkled some salt and pepper in the cavity of the turkey, and all over the bird itself, before covering the pan tightly with foil.
For the first two hours of roasting time, the turkey would be tucked in tight under the foil. The last hour or so is plenty of time to get that skin nice and brown and crispy. The foil tent helps keep all of the moisture in.
After two hours in the oven, it was time to remove the foil, and baste the turkey every fifteen minutes until the end of cooking time.
Can you see all of those herbs in there? The drippings from this turkey are amazing, and make the best gravy ever. Beautiful color!!
My fifteen pound turkey took about three hours total to come to temperature (170-175* in the thickest part of the thigh), and when it was done, we moved it from the pan to the platter using OXO’s amazing new Turkey Lifter!
Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Genius!
Once it was moved, I covered the turkey with foil, and let it rest for thirty minutes before slicing it.
This was enough time to bake the other sides I was working on, and get everything ready for our Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving table.
You know that scene in A Christmas Story where the dad is poking and prodding at the turkey as the mother is trying to get it ready for dinner (before the dogs destroy it)? Good luck keeping the family away from this as you cut into it.
So juicy, so flavorful, so very, very perfect.
And really…not all that difficult. You just need to have the prep time beforehand to get a few things done.
You know what else helps? Excellent kitchen tools meant just for Turkey Day! This year, in honor of the family turkey dinner, OXO is giving away a fabulous prize package including the following items: That amazing poultry lifter, a twine dispenser, the best drip-free baster ever that comes with a cleaning brush, the two-cup fat separator, and a stainless steel butter dish!
These can be yours! Just be sure to enter below!
Happy Thanksgiving menu planning! I hope this incredible bird makes its way to your table in the process!
THE ULTIMATE HERB ROASTED AND BRINED TURKEY
Adapted from Fine Cooking
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
- ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped fine
- ¼ cup fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
- 5 quarts water
- 1 lemon's worth of peels, peeled into strips
- 10 cloves garlic
- handful of fresh parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary (a few sprigs of each)
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- 1¼ cups Kosher salt
- 2 Turkey sized oven roasting bags
- 14-15 lb. turkey
- kosher salt
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- In a medium sized skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat.
- Add the shallots and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add the wine, stir, and allow to simmer until the wine evaporates, 5-8 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped herbs and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate.
- When the herbs are completely cool, put the rest of the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the herb mixture and beat until blended, about 1 minute.
- Scoop the butter out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the butter, and shape it into a log. Wrap completely in plastic and refrigerate or freeze, based on when you need it.
- In a 6 quart pot, combine all of the ingredients.
- Cover, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow the brine to cool.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- Remove and discard the neck and giblets from the turkey.
- Place one roasting bag in the other to double up the strength.
- Rinse the turkey and place it, breast side down, in the roasting bags.
- Carefully, pour the chilled brine over the turkey. Gather up the bag and secure it with the included twist ties. If you feel like the brine isn't covering some of the turkey, place the turkey bag in a large pot to help distribute the brine evenly.
- Place the turkey and brine in the refrigerator and chill overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Position a rack on the bottom level of the oven.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine.
- Rinse the turkey well. Pat it dry with paper towels, and place it in a large, flameproof, roasting pan.
- Slice the herb butter into ¼ inch slices.
- Slide your hand between the breast meat and the skin to separate the skin from the meat.
- Slide the slices of butter under the skin, and distribute them evenly between the skin and the breast meat. Slide some of the butter down by the legs as well.
- With your hands on the outside of the skin, massage the turkey to break up the butter slices and distribute the butter evenly.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of salt and 1 Tbsp. of pepper inside the cavity of the turkey.
- If the turkey's legs aren't secured when you buy it, tie them together with twine. Fold the wings back, and tuck the tips in by the neck area.
- Flip the turkey onto its breast, pat the back dry, and brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper.
- Flip the bird back over, pat the breast side dry, and brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover the roasting pan and turkey tightly with foil, and place the turkey in the oven.
- Roast, undisturbed, for 2 hours.
- Carefully uncover the turkey (watch out for steam!) and return the turkey to the oven. Baste every 15 minutes, and roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of both thighs reads 170-175*F and the juices run clear, about 45 min. to 1 hour more for a 15 lb. turkey.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a platter. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes before slicing.