Holiday Turkey Recipes

Perfect Roasted Turkey

by Steve Pope Chef Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch Testing Kitchens

Creating the perfect roasted bird is not that difficult but there are a few "rules" that must be followed. Remember that you are not preparing the mass produced commercial supermarket bird of today. Therefore keep in mind that the carcass structure will be a bit different. It is quite natural to expect the humped breast bone and less meat to the bone ratio, and the bird will be somewhat leaner. These birds develop more muscle due to the free range which required a bit longer cooking time. This natural characteristic enhances the flavor that is often missing from the commercial bird.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Rinse 12-16 lb turkey well, inside and out with cold running water. Pat dry inside and out. Rub bird in side with mixture of 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of fresh ground pepper. I do not stuff the bird., Using skewers I pin the neck skin to the underside of the bird and fold the wings behind the back (akimbo style), tie drumsticks together to reduce cavity space.
  3. Rub the entire bird with butter. Sprinkle bird on the outside with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Place turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan in 1 1/2 cups water. Place in oven for 30 min. Then, remove from oven and baste exterior with natural juices. Cover tightly and return to oven at the reduced temperature of 325 degrees. Plan to bake the bird for 15-20 min per pound.
  4. To increase moisture and natural flavor, 1 1/2 hours after baking, remove the bird from the oven. Using an injector draw and inject breast, thighs and drumsticks with cooked juices. Add 1 small-med cubed yellow onion to cavity (small amounts of rubbed sage, and rosemary may be added to the cavity at this time, if desired.) Return to the oven in a tightly sealed roasting pan. Bake according to time/weight ratio.
  5. Doneness can be checked by if the drumstick feels tender when pressed and juices from the bird run clear. Internal meat thermometer should reach 180 degrees.
  6. When the bird is within 30 minutes of its final baking time, remove cover, baste the bird with 1/2 natural juices and 1/2 butter. Then return the bird to the oven, in an open roasting pan, to brown lightly. Enjoy your bird!

Roast Heritage Turkey

by Chef Leonard Spampinato of Aromas Fine Catering

Chef Leonard Spampinato of Aromas Fine Catering suggests preparing turkeys without stuffing. These are his roasting guidelines: 6 to 16 pounds, 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Over 16 pounds, 12 to 15 minutes per pound. Do not cover the birds with foil, he cautions, or they will steam, not roast.

For the turkey:

  • 1 12- to 15-pound turkey
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Stems from 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the pan sauce:

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Rinse the turkey and pat dry. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Allow butter to cool to room temperature.
  2. While the butter is cooling, season the turkey. Rub the minced garlic over the entire turkey, including the underside. Brush butter over the entire bird. Then season with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place the bay leaf and parsley stems inside the cavity. Put the turkey in a roasting pan and place in the preheated oven to roast for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees. Roast the bird for 3 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours (see roasting guidelines above), or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees. Be sure to place the thermometer into a thigh and avoid touching the bone.
  4. Transfer the turkey to a platter and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. While the turkey is resting, prepare the sauce.
  5. Preparing the pan sauce: Dissolve the cornstarch in one cup of cold chicken stock. Pour the fat and juices from the roasting pan into a container. Let the juices settle to the bottom and skim the fat from the top. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat.
  6. Add the juices back to the pan along with the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock (about 1/4 cup for every pound of turkey).
  7. Bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned drippings on the bottom. Thicken the sauce by whisking in the cornstarch-stock mixture. When the sauce returns to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Adjust the seasonings and strain through a sieve. The sauce is now ready to serve. Carve the turkey and pass the sauce.