There’s nothing better than a deliciously roasted bird for the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other time you’ve got one on hand, roasting a turkey is a great way to commemorate an occasion. While it’s gotten a reputation for being difficult to work with and being easy to overcook, this bird is a super easy and delicious meal if you know what you’re doing.
Follow this simple recipe to learn the best technique for roasting a perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
Ingredient List For The Perfect Roasted Turkey
The recipe for making a turkey is relatively simple and stress-free. You’ll just need to get a few things before you can start.
- Large turkey (11-15 lbs works best).
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter.
- Olive oil.
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled.
- 2 lemons.
- 1-2 bunches fresh parsley.
- 2 large yellow or white onions.
- 4 peeled carrots.
- 3 stalks celery.
- Butcher’s twine.
- 2-3 wire racks.
- Large roasting pan similar in size to your bird.
- Plastic wrap.
- Aluminum foil.
- Probe thermometer.
Once you’ve collected everything on the list, you can begin the recipe.
Step 1: Prep Work
Before any recipe can start, it’s best to prep your ingredients. Start by chopping your carrots, celery, and one onion into medium sized pieces (about 1/4 of an inch) and place them inside your pan, tossing with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Top these vegetables with wire racks (2 or 3 depending on the size of your bird) as you preheat the oven to 430˚F with the oven rack set to a lower position.
Next, place your three garlic gloves, four tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon of zest, 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley, 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper into a bowl or mortar and mix them together. When mixed, add two tablespoons of olive oil and all your softened butter, mixing until everything comes together into a creamy flavored butter. Transfer to a piece of plastic wrap and secure in the fridge to firm up slightly before using.
Finally, halve your remaining garlic cloves and quarter your onion and remaining lemon. Additionally, it helps to rinse the turkey thoroughly with cold water and pat dry before seasoning or cooking.
Step 2: Seasoning
With prep complete, you can move on to seasoning the poultry. Season the inside of your bird generously with salt and pepper (1 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon each). Remove your butter from the fridge, then run your fingers beneath the skin of your bird to loosen it, being careful not to tear the skin as you move from back to front.
When the skin has separated, rub 2/3 of the flavored butter beneath it carefully, coating the top of the skin and the rest of the bird with the last 1/3 and drizzling with a teaspoon or two of olive oil, followed by another generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
Step 3: Stuffing
In lieu of a traditional stuffing, we’ll be placing the prepared vegetables and aromatics from before inside the bird for extra flavor. Add in the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, and lemon (you can include the remains of the lemon you zested and juiced from the previous step, too). When stuffed, tie the legs together with butcher’s twine to help the stuffing stay inside during cooking. Tuck the wings under the body, as well, to prevent the tips from burning.
Step 4: Cooking
Once the stuffing is complete, let your bird sit out for a few more minutes until it has warmed slightly to near room temperature, helping to ensure a more even and juicier cook. When it’s up to temperature along with the oven, place the bird onto the racks inside the pan (cooking poultry over a bed of chopped vegetables helps to keep the juices from burning, as well as provides you with delicious roasted vegetables once the dish is complete). Stick a thermometer into the area below the drumstick.
Before placing into the oven, take a square of aluminum foil and fold it over into a triangle. Coat one side of the foil with olive oil and fit the oiled side to the top of the bird before removing it and setting aside. Place the bird into the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes have passed, remove the bird from the oven and baste with the juices and butter that have collected at the bottom. Lower the oven temperature to 350˚F and place your foil triangle onto the breasts, returning the turkey to the oven to cook for another 13 minutes for each pound of meat. You’ll know if it’s done when the thermometer registers a temperature of 170˚F in the dark meat region and 160˚F in the breast.
Step 5: Resting
When the desired temperature has been reached, remove the bird from the oven and transfer it to a serving platter, tinting with foil to rest for at least 1 hour (though it’s preferable to rest the bird for as long as you cooked it). Arrange the roasted vegetables around the bird to help with presentation, or transfer them to their own bowl or plate for serving separately.
As you rest the meat, you can use the accumulated juices from the bottom of the pan to make a gravy. Just add a few tablespoons of water to the pan over medium heat and scrape up the browned bits that are stuck to the bottom, cooking the mixture down to your desired consistency and adding any other herbs or flavorings you wish.
With minimal effort, you’ve just cooked one of the best Thanksgiving dinners your friends and family have ever seen. There’s no reason to be intimidated by this signature dish, as all it takes to make a mind-blowing dish is a little effort and a good recipe.
If you’re looking for a place to shop to stock your kitchen this holiday season, The Butcher Shop is a great option. The Butcher Shop offers fresh, free-range turkeys and breasts, plus a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.