Alas! The long-awaited Turkey recipe – just in time for the big day! I created this recipe last year and continued to make it this year because it’s just that good! I take the traditional flavors of turkey and amp-up the flavor by adding orange and rosemary, which is a great flavor combination. By basting the turkey in an orange and rosemary infused glaze, not only do you get a juicy and delicious bird, when you make gravy with the drippings it has this wonderful but unexpected punch of the orange and rosemary. Ready? Let’s make some Turkey.
I start with a 15-20lb Kosher turkey, thawed and left uncovered in the refrigerator for two days. On T-day, let the turkey come to room temperature on the counter for a full 2 hours. When the turkey is at room temperature, sprinkle the cavity with 2 tsp Kosher salt and 1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Then, stuff with your favorite stuffing. If you prefer to leave the bird un-stuffed, I recommend putting quartered onions, quartered orange and some fresh rosemary inside the cavity. Either way, DO NOT over stuff the bird, or it won’t cook evenly. I stuff mine with traditional stuffing and at the very end, put half an onion in to keep the stuffing inside before closing the bird.
Next, transfer the bird to a wire rack, set over a roasting pan. I put thickly sliced onions, unpeeled carrots cut in thirds and stocks of celery cut in thirds in the bottom of the pan to add extra flavor to the drippings and to keep the bird moist. You want to make sure your roasting pan is big enough to hold the bird, but not too big or the mirepoix in the bottom will burn. If you don’t have a wire roasting rack, the veggies will work fine to support the bird. Carefully truss the bird with cooking twine, being sure the wings and legs are tied closely to the body so the bird roasts evenly.
Next, I take an orange and rosemary compound butter (recipe follows), and spread it in a thick layer all over the bird. Clean hands are your best friend here! When the bird is covered in the compound butter, sprinkle the outside with 2 more tsp Kosher salt and 1.5 tsp pepper. It’s ready for roasting!
While I prep the turkey, I also prepare my glaze (recipe follows). I take homemade chicken stock, freshly squeezed orange juice (using the orange I zested for the compound butter), orange juice and fresh rosemary sprigs, and warm it on the stove. What a beautiful sight!
I then add a few ladles of the warm glaze and about 2/3 cup of Pinot Grigio to the bottom of the pan, and put the turkey into a preheated 350F oven for one hour. I don’t baste for the first hour so you get a beautiful crust and the orange zest and chopped rosemary stick to the bird. After the first hour, I baste the turkey every thirty minutes, alternating using the drippings and the glaze on the stove. This helps balance the fat from the drippings and the fresh glaze to make sure you have enough drippings for gravy. If the wings and/or bird start to get too dark, cover loosely with foil while roasting. This will prevent the wings and skin from burning, although you do want a deep rich color when the bird is done.
After 2 hours, I check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh every thirty minutes, until the bird reaches exactly 160F. You have to have a good meat thermometer to make sure the bird is done. An 18-20lb stuffed bird will take about 4.5-5 hours. If the bird is cooking too fast (timing for guests to arrive), I adjust the temperature downwards, first to 325F and then 300F if needed. !
When the bird is exactly 160F in the thickest part of the thigh and the stuffing temperature reads at least 160F, gently slice between the leg and the body; if the meat is dark and the juices run clear, it’s done. Remove the bird from the oven and place on a board. I cover the bird loosely with foil and clean kitchen towels and let it rest for a full hour. You read that right, a FULL hour. The carryover cooking allows the bird to come up to a safe temperature of 165F, and allows the meat to rest so all the juices are reabsorbed into the meat keeping the meat extra juicy. During this time, you can heat your casseroles, make your gravy, and do the final prep for your ultimate, and stress-free Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy this turkey as much as my family and friends do! Bon Apetit!
Ingredients & Directions
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
Zest of one large orange
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
In a small bowl, combine butter, orange zest, chopped rosemary and add 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Mash together with a fork and cover. Let sit overnight at room temperature for the flavors to combine.
Orange & Rosemary Glaze
3 cups homemade chicken stock
Juice of 1 orange (I use the one from the compound butter)
1/2 cup orange juice
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (whole)
Combine ingredients in a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering throughout the roasting process so when you baste the bird you don’t lower the cooking temperature.