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For me, turkey at both Thanksgiving and Christmas is just something that I do. It was our family tradition. Then, after I was grown and on my own, I realized one day, it was not about the turkey, it was everything else that went with it that made it special. Besides smoked turkey or fine deli sliced turkey like you get from the store or that is pre-packaged in the meat section, I cannot say that I was ever particularly fond of turkey! It is doubtful that I would ever roast a turkey at any other times than for these two holidays – until NOW!
I once wrapped a turkey with pastry dough and it was pretty good. I have stuffed one once and will not do that again. For one thing, I like dressing or stuffing and I have never seen a turkey cavity big enough, to make enough for my liking. For another, once you stuff a turkey, it is likely to spoil much more quickly than if not stuffed. So, after the meal, you really need to cut and remove all the meat from the bones as is possible and/or boil the carcass for soup stock etc. Leftovers are good too!
I have tried all manner of turkey – fresh, adult, wild turkey, smoked, deep fried and frozen. For consistency, I have mostly, always relied on frozen ‘young’ turkey from the Butterball® brand.
If you try the recipe to follow, I will venture to say that there will be those that do not usually like roast turkey that will like this!!! For me, it is mouth watering and flavorful throughout, even the dark meat and I generally do not eat dark meat. It is juicy and tender and so tender in fact, the meat nearly fell off the bone. Pulling the remaining meat from the bone after dinner was the easiest I have ever experienced. The secrets are the salt (which tenderizes the meat), lemon (adds moisture and flavor), rosemary (adds flavor) and the last secret to tender turkey is, slow-cooking.
Dahni’s Roasted Turkey Dinner (cont.)
Rosemary Citrus Salt:
• 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves chopped (fresh is more expensive, but worth the extra expense)
• 2 tablespoons of lemon zest (remove zest from 1 lemon see: lemon under Turkey below)
• ½ cup of coarse salt (use coarse salt substitute if desired and if you can find it)
• ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine rosemary, lemon zest and salt in small bowl
2. pour olive oil into separate small bowl
• 13-18 lb. whole young turkey (mine was around 13 pounds)
• 2 large carrots cut lengthwise
• 2 celery stalks cut lengthwise
• 1-4 springs of fresh rosemary (I used 1 sprig about 6” long)
• 1 lemon (zest has been removed = about 2 tablespoons for your salt rub above) cut lemon in half
Note: So your guests don’t have to fight over the drumsticks, you could vary this recipe with (2) smaller turkeys or even (2) 8-10 pound chickens, but add another ¼ cup of olive oil and more springs of Rosemary and another lemon cut in half (one for each turkey/chicken).
1. Pre-heat oven to 325° F.
2. Remove giblets and neck from both sides of turkey cavities and set aside in a large size pan on the stove
3. Thoroughly rinse and pat dry turkey inside and out.
4. Coat outside of turkey and inside with the olive oil (there will be some left in the bowl when you are done) Look for and use culinary disposable gloves to keep your hands from getting oily and prevent any transfer of plastic taste which can happen with ordinary disposable gloves.
5. Place the 2 halves of one lemon into the breast cavity of the turkey.
6. Place fresh rosemary sprigs into the breast cavity of the turkey
7. Season the outside of your turkey with the rosemary citrus salt, pressing it in to adhere.
8. Lightly spray cooking spray on the bottom of your roasting pan (I used Pam® brand olive oil spray
9. Arrange halved carrots and celery on the bottom of your roasting pan to set the turkey so that the bottom of the turkey does not touch the bottom of your pan.
10. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the outside of your turkey.
11. Lightly spray cooking spray (Pam® brand olive oil spray) on the interior side of enough foil to completely cover the turkey.
12. Completely cover turkey with foil and wrap the edges. Note this is not a ‘tent’ it is a cover.
Note: If using a foil roasting pan, you might want to place a pan underneath just in case it leaks to catch the drippings. Or, just put one disposable aluminum pan into another. Why? Because 9 out of 10 times, one of the pans will have a small hole in it. Use one pan and the juice could leak out into your oven and cause smoke. Use two pans and this won’t generally happen. I suppose both pans could have holes, but it’s not likely. It like the adage, if you don’t use two, you’ll need them. If you use two, you probably won’t! 🙂
13. Place covered turkey into pre-heated oven.
14. Set timer for 90 minutes. When timer goes off, uncover and remove as much of the drippings as possible and place in a bowl to add to dressing and/or gravy. (this is very salty so use sparingly)
15. Re-cover turkey and set timer for another 90 minutes.
16. Re-check turkey and remove as much of the juice as possible for your dressing/gravy. Test interior temperature of turkey with a meat thermometer. When it reads 165° F. it is done. Mine needed another ½ hour.
17. The last 15 minutes of your cooking time, raise your oven temperature to 425° F. and remove the foil covering so the top browns.
18. After 15 minutes, re-check the interior temp. with a meat thermometer. When it reads 165° F. it is done.
19. Remove turkey from oven and allow to ‘rest’ for about 15 minutes before carving. While turkey is resting you can finish making your gravy.
Cooking time is 3 – 3 ½ hours at 325° F. I used 3 ½ hours for a 13 pound turkey. (For the correct amount of cooking time based on the pounds of turkey, just follow the instructions included with every Butterball® brand turkey.) The last 15 minutes uncover the turkey and raise the temp. to 425° F. to brown top. Remove from oven and allow to ‘rest’ about 15 minutes before carving. You can vary this recipe by doubling the ingredients for say a 20-30 lb. turkey and so on. After you first place the oven into the oven to cook, you can work on the first part of your gravy and on the dressing or stuffing.
• 2 small onions peeled and quartered
• 2 carrots cut in half
• 2 celery stalks cut in half (use the leaves as this makes the broth more flavorful)
• 2 quarts of chicken stock, broth or even bullion cubes/granules with a quart of water is fine (non salted stock is preferred)
• ¾ cup of unsalted butter
• ¾ cut of all purpose flour
1. Into a large size pan on the stove, place turkey giblets and neck.
2. Add carrots, celery and onion.
3. Pour 1 quart of chicken stock or broth over this.
4. Bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Once it boils, reduce temp. and simmer until it cooks down to about 2 cups.
6. Turn off heat, strain and set aside. You will use this liquid later when your turkey has finished cooking and is ‘resting.’
7. While turkey is resting, place a small skillet on the stove.
8. Melt ¾ cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), in a pan on medium heat.
9. Slowly add ¾ cup of all-purpose flour.
10. Whisk over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until a smooth blond colored mixture (rue) is formed.
11. Add mixture to your reserved strained turkey mixture that you set aside on stove.
12. Add 1 quart of chicken stock or broth and pan juices.
13. Bring to a boil over high heat and let simmer until thickened and ready to serve. Season to taste. ENJOY NO LUMP DELICIOUS GRAVY!
Dressing or Stuffing:
• Chicken stock or broth as needed to moisten bread
• Turkey pan drippings as desired and needed for flavor and moisture
• ½ to 1 stick of unsalted butter melted.
• 1 large white onion diced.
• 3-4 celery stalks diced (use celery leaves if you like, but I prefer not to)
• 2 loaves of white bread – open the bag and leave the bread in the bag stacked over so that air can pass over the tops – 1-2 days before, to dry the bread.
• 1 loaf of wheat bread – open the bag and leave the bread in the bag stacked over so that air can pass over the tops – 1-2 days before to dry the bread.
• 1 box of Jiffy® brand corn bread mix.
• Seasonings to taste – I just remember the line from the Simon & Garfunkel song and use: “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” 🙂
• Salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Remember, your turkey pan drippings will have salt from the Citrus Rosemary Salt mixture so take care when adding more salt. Some people add dried cranberries and/or chopped walnuts to their dressing and I have heard it is really good. Adding apple and mild sausage to your dressing is also, excellent. Some people like oyster dressing, but I do not. I have tried adding roasted chestnuts once, but did not like the texture of the chestnuts, so I do not recommend this. To each their own, but the mix of white bread, wheat and cornbread really makes this special!
1. Prepare and cook corn bread as directed on the Jiffy® brand corn bread mix. Prepare this the day before you need it and leave it out to dry.
2. Gently tear bread into pieces. I remove most, but not all the crusts as I believe too much crust makes the dressing or stuffing too tough.
3. Crumble corn bread and add to bread crumbs
4. Mix bread crumbs and corn bread together in large bowl.
5. Sauté diced onions and celery with butter on stove, on medium heat until the most of the water cooks down from the vegetables.
6. Pour sautéed vegetables over your bread crumbs and cornbread.
7. Add some chicken broth and pan juices as needed.
8. Add your dry seasonings (“Parsley – Sage – Rosemary and Thyme”) and salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Remember, your turkey pan drippings will have salt from the Citrus Rosemary Salt mixture so take care when adding more salt.
9. Mix dressing/stuffing until well combined and taste. To your liking, add whatever you think it needs.
10. Transfer stuffing to a lightly pre-sprayed (cooking spray), long rectangular shaped Pyrex, glass or metal deep pan.
11. Cover with foil.
12. Place the dressing into a pre-heated oven.
Note cooking time will vary depending on how and when you cook your dressing. If space and ovens are minimal, you can always make this ahead of time without pan drippings and then just heat it up later to be served when everything else is ready. If you are fortunate to have two ovens or a double oven, cook at 350° F. for around 45 minutes to one hour. The last 15 minutes of your cooking time, raise the oven temp to 425° F. to just lightly brown the top. For mine, I placed the covered dressing/stuffing into the same oven next to the turkey in the oven at 325° F., 1 hour before the turkey was uncovered and the temp was raised to 425° F. for the last 15 minutes. It was perfect!
The recipes used have been tested with many people and even those that do NOT like turkey. All have wholeheartedly agreed that this is the best turkey they have ever eaten! This is not to be braggadocious, but so you may be confident, your guests will say the same thing about your turkey dinner!
These recipes have often been requested, for me to make them and for others to make them, themselves. It will warm your heart when people ask you, “Would you please make your turkey,” or “Could I PLEASE have your turkey dinner recipes!”
I do not mind sharing them with those that ask, but please remember, these are just some of the featured recipes of my not yet published book, ‘The Gathering Place’ (Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining). Please do NOT share them with others without my permission. They are copyrighted and unless I have given you specific permission to use them and share them, would make anyone in violation of Copyright infringement.
Once ‘The Gathering Place’ is published, it is my heart’s desire that anyone will be able to prepare, cook, present and serve 5 star restaurant quality food and ambience, for all holidays and special occasions entertaining at home, for their family and guests!
Again, please honor my request and not share these recipes with anyone, without my permission. You do have my permission to use these for yourself! For additional permission, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a PDF file of these recipes you may freely download.
By Dahni & I-Magine
©️ 2018, all rights reserved
From my Work in Progress: ‘The Gathering Place Cook Book’, under the category of:
Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining, by Dahni © 2013-2015, all rights reserved