Best Turkey. Ever.

img_1102I guess this week is the week for “Ever” posts.  But seriously… this is the best turkey I have ever had.  Yes, it was my first try at turkey, but I have been a turkey consumer for much longer than I have been a turkey chef… and let me tell you it was AMAZING.  Ok so the picture isn’t great… but it tasted good!

I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging about my cooking ability (I’m not).  As you can tell from the lack of recipe posts I write, there are few things I make that I feel are actually worth sharing with the world – but this is one of them!  Obviously I knew nothing about how to cook a turkey a month ago.  So, I asked around at Church, talked to my mom, got on good ole Google, and gleaned from the experts.  What do people who DO know how to make turkey do when they cook turkey?

And I found some good stuff… so I’m going to share that with you wonderful people because, in full disclosure, my morning sick self unfortunately thinks this aromatic, delicious, juicy turkey actually smells quite disgusting.  Sadness…  So you are more than welcome to use this for your Christmas dinner, just make sure you started thawing your turkey out like… yesterday :)

What You’ll Need

  • 12 lb turkey (or adjust recipe for appropriate size)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • several fresh basil leaves
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt
  • chicken broth
  • stuffing and/or vegetables (optional)
  • roasting pan
  • turkey bag

What To Do

  1. Begin defrosting your turkey several days prior to the feast.  If you only have a couple days to defrost, use cool water to quicken the process.
  2. Prepare your Turkey the day before you want to eat it.  This way you will have a lot less to do tomorrow and it will give the seasoning time to settle in and give the turkey a richer flavor.
  3. The day BEFORE, take your thawed turkey out of the refrigerator.  Prep your turkey by rinsing, taking out any gravy or giblets packages and placing it in your roasting pan breast up.
  4. Loosen the skin on your turkey by gently massaging in between the meat and the skin.  Loosen as far back on the breast as you can (this may take some time) and down to the end of the drumstick.  You will want to work your fingers in a downward motion as to not tear the skin.
  5. After your turkey is ready you can begin to make your seasoning concoction.  First, finely chop your rosemary and your basil.  You will want about two tablespoons of the first and about one tablespoon of the later.  Set aside extra sprigs and leaves for later.
  6. Melt your butter and add the chopped rosemary and basil.
  7. Add about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning.  (If you are changing the recipe due to turkey size just keep the approximate ratios.  Equal parts basil and Italian seasoning with approximately twice as much rosemary.)
  8. Ground some black pepper into your butter mixture and add salt to taste.
  9. Mix well and using a pastry brush, your fingers or another gentle method, spread butter mixture in between the meat and skin.  Make sure to generously cover the entire breast as well as the legs and thighs as much as possible.
  10. Make sure to completely recover all the meat with skin, use toothpicks if necessary.
  11. Pour leftover butter mixture over the top of the turkey and tuck the extra rosemary and basil into the sides of the bag.  Now your turkey is ready to sit overnight!
  12. The next day (the day of the feast) finish any preparations for your turkey.  Add any vegetables or stuffing that you want to cook with the turkey to share its flavor.  If you are stuffing your turkey, make sure the stuffing is HOT going into the oven so you don’t have to worry about it coming up to temp if your turkey is already done.
  13. Add some chicken broth to the bottom of the turkey bag to ensure there are enough juices throughout the cooking process.  This is especially helpful if you over-rinsed all your juices out of your turkey.
  14. Cook the turkey at 375 for 2-4 hours or until your thermometer reaches a temp of at least 180 or there is no longer pink meat when cutting into the breast.

And that’s it!  You should have a yummy turkey in no time.  One thing I did not do this year that I didn’t find to be necessary, but would make a nice addition to the meal, is to use carrots to lift up the turkey.  If the turkey is sitting off the pan it can cook more evenly.  Instead of using a metal grate or something else inedible, try using several large carrots underneath the turkey.  That way when your turkey is done you will have a tasty and juicy vegetable to go along with it!

Enjoy! And if you happen to try it, let me know how it goes!

Happy eating!

Disclaimer: If you happen to find another recipe online that is very similar to this one… I did warn you that these weren’t exactly my ideas didn’t I?  Although… I will take credit for the chicken broth…
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