Yesterday the roommates and I hosted a Friendsgiving and I can proudly say that I did not screw up my first roast turkey! Apparently all those years of helping my dad with the turkey finally paid off !
I’ll make this one quick as I’ve got to finish things up and get on the road up to CT, but the turkey came out juicy and perfectly cooked. Honestly, no way I was thinking it was coming out this good. I was ready to settle for slightly dry even. But man, was that delicious.
I do have to say that my dad did receive a couple calls during the preparation. “So that extra skin on the bird where does that go?” “Do I get rid of the neck?” “Can I save the giblets for a stock to use in gravy” Answers are …. a) if it looks like extra and shouldn’t be there get rid of it or just tuck it under b) keep it for the stock and gravy c) of course, you’d be crazy to get rid of that stuff!
And after handling prepping a turkey solo, I can now clearly understand why my father called me over to help him at the sink. Because this is definitely much easier with two people. Yesterday afternoon, as I leaned over the sink with one hand up the turkey and the other dousing it in salt and pepper, my neighbor across the way got a good chuckle (our kitchen windows face each other).
After the bird gets a generous shake inside and out of salt and pepper, it’s time for the roasting pan. I used a disposable roast pan with a build in rack that I HIGHLY recommend for easy cleanup, available at any grocery store. However, if you have a nice roast pan your dying to use and a rack to put in there to place the turkey on go for it.
Then it’s time for the olive oil rub down. Come on now, this is an Italian household, what else did you expect?
For what to put inside this now glistening bird, there are loads of options out there but my dad and I are simplistic people and the basics seem to work. Onions, garlic cloves, lots of fresh herbs (sage and thyme) go inside the cavity. Then tuck those wings under the bird and tie those legs up with kitchen twine and your good to go.
I do have to pause here and give credit to this video for quickly teaching me how to easily tie the legs together. YouTube is a beautiful thing.
Into a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven, my 13-pound turkey went for about 3 hours and 20 minutes. I took it out at 3 hours and 15 minutes and my thermometer was not quite at 165 degrees Fahrenheit so I wanted to give it a bit more time. Also, an hour into cooking the top breast area was getting a touch brown already, so I covered the turkey with aluminum foil to avoid it over browning.
Once that thing comes out its ooos and aaaahs all around. Recipe below for this simple roast turkey, along with a delicious cranberry orange sauce that doubles as jam the day after on toast and bagels (lil whipped cream cheese on a crispy toasted bagel and dollop of this cranberry sauce is heaven!).
Happy Thanksgiving !
Simple Roast Turkey with Herbs
(Figure 1 pound of turkey per person, so feeds 13 people)
two small onions, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
Handful of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary
salt and pepper
For starters make sure your turkey is defrosted. I know this sounds silly but trust me I’ve had friends that day of forget this step. Position the racks in your oven so that there is a large enough space for your turkey to fit and then preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Highly recommend preparing your turkey over the sink as I did. To prepare your turkey remove the neck and giblets (almost always this come in a lovely bag inside the turkey) and save these for a future stock or gravy. Turn the turkey over to dump out any excess liquid from the inside of the cavity.
Next if you have an extra set of hands, have them hold the turkey while you generously salt and pepper the inside and out. If it’s just you, first stick your hand up the cavity and hold the turkey up while you salt and pepper the entire outside, then salt and pepper the inside. Place the turkey on your roasting pan (if you are using a disposable with a rack place it right on the pan, if not then put it on a rack inside a pan). Rub the entire turkey in olive oil, covering every little inch of that bird all around.
Position the turkey breast side up and stuff the inside of the cavity with the onions, garlic and herbs. Tuck the wings underneath the breast by pulling them up, out and under. Then tie the legs together using kitchen twine, doubling up a piece of twine so that you can put one end through the loop and pull the legs together. Then tie around as many times and cut any excess twine.
Cook the turkey for 3 hours and 15 minutes, making sure to check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees. To do this take a meat thermometer and insert it into the thicker part of the breast meat. My turkey needed 5 extra minutes, but this could vary between everyone. An hour into cooking I recommend covering your turkey with aluminum foil so it does not get overly brown.
Once done, remove the turkey and let it sit for 30 minutes before slicing.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
(makes about 4 cups)
2 12-oz bags fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups orange juice
Dump your cranberries in a colander and rinse them off, picking through to make sure you don’t have any stems. Place the cranberries and the rest of the ingredients in a large dutch oven or heavy-duty pot and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. A slight boil is fine, but do not let it get to a roaring boil or you will end up with burned sugar on the bottom of your pot. The end result will be a thick, jelly like consistency.
Take the cranberry sauce off the heat and transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge until you are ready to serve it up with your turkey!