At our house, nothing says Thanksgiving and Christmas like turkey and dressing. I’ve somehow become the turkey girl — I’m glad because it’s very easy. Buying more than one when they are available and inexpensive is a good idea– they are still good to eat later in the year!
When you buy a turkey it is usually frozen. There will be thawing instructions on the package, varying depending on the weight of the turkey and the temp of your fridge. I put this one in the fridge Wednestay evening and it still was a bit frozen inside on Sunday morning– so plan ahead! Of course you can thaw it in water or out on the countertop, but it’s not recommended.
Open the package in the sink– there will be lots of liquid that will make a mess if you don’t.
Now let’s get cooking! I use Ina Garten’s herb butter recipe to start:
Preheat your oven to 375, and get out a shallow pan with a rack. (If you don’t have a rack, make your own with carrots and celery– the bonus is your juice will be extra flavored!)
In a small bowl, stir up 1 stick of butter, softened (You can use olive oil instead, or part olive oil and part butter if you want a little healthier choice– it won’t brown as well though.)
Add 1 tsp salt, pepper, and minced garlic
Add 1 TBS finely chopped fresh sage, basil, rosemary, parsley, and oregano. If you use dried herbs, crumble the leaves up and use about half as much.
Now, gently pry the skin away from the breast as far as you can. Get clumps of herb butter and spread under the skin. Then spread over all the skin, evening out the butter under the skin as you smear it around. Sprinkle some more salt and pepper on if you want to. I like lots!
Now put him in to roast. Use the guidelines on the bag according to the weight. There is also a ton of “minutes per pound” info on the Interweb… I think I started checking this one after 3 1/2 or 4 hours. Now here’s the problem with a whole turkey and a deep pan like mine: (see it over by the sink?) The breast was over 180 degrees (remember how I love my meat thermometer) and brown and beautiful, but the bottom parts weren’t cooked all the way. After it cooled enough to handle it, I cut the breast meat off, flipped the whole thing over and put it back in the oven for another half hour or so. I have a convection oven, so I’m not sure if using a shallower pan would have prevented the uneven cooking?? For tomorrow (Thanksgiving day at Granny’s) I’m just cooking a breast. It’s still 8 pounds, all we’ll need, and much easier!
Save your juices, then use them in gravy. And for heaven’s sake, after you cut the meat off the bones, BOIL THEM! Put them in the crock pot overnight. You will get some of the most flavorful broth you’ve ever tasted. Then boil them again and you’ll get some more. I don’t know how many times you could do that; I stop after 2 times.