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Talking turkey: How to prepare the perfect bird

It’s the centerpiece of most holiday feasts — and it doesn’t have to come with a side of stress. Follow this trusted turkey recipe, and you can count on great results. 


What you’ll need:

  • 1 whole turkey, preferably fresh and all natural, not injected with any solution
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, stem removed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, stem removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme, stem removed and chopped
  • 1 whole lemon, zested
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 2 yards cheesecloth, 100 percent lint free for cooking
  • Apple, orange, carrots, lemon, onion and garlic for placing in bird’s cavity. Again, I never stuff a turkey.

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • Add 2 cups water to the bottom of roasting pan.
  • Combine melted butter, white wine and stock in a medium-sized saucepan. Set aside.
  • Combine softened butter, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, garlic and salt. Mix until well combined.
  • Rub 2/3 of the softened butter and herb mixture under the skin over the turkey breast and drumsticks. Be careful not to rip the skin. Spread remaining butter over the top of turkey skin.
  • If stuffing, stuff now and tie legs together and secure skin flap in back. If not stuffing, add onions, garlic, apple, orange, lemon and carrots. Cut orange, lemon and apple in half. This adds extra flavor.
  • Take cheesecloth and fold large enough to cover top and sides of turkey. Dip cheesecloth into white wine-butter mixture and cover the top and sides of turkey with the cheesecloth.
  • Heat butter-wine mixture on low to warm and use for basting. When this mixture runs low, use pan juices for basting.
  • Place turkey in oven and baste every 20 minutes until thigh meat registers 180-185 degrees, and if stuffed, stuffing needs to register at 165 degrees. Allow anywhere from 15-20 minutes per pound if stuffed, a little bit less for unstuffed —  about 7 to 7 1/2 hours for a 29-pound turkey.
  • Remove cheesecloth 30-45 minutes before removing from oven and baste well to brown skin. If cheesecloth is sticking, baste it well to loosen it from the skin. * Allow turkey to rest 15 minutes before slicing to allow juices to soak back into meat. Make gravy during this time with remaining pan juices.

Recipe compiled from, Michael Symon, Martha Stewart and me.

For gravy: Boil neck, liver, giblets found in package in cavity with salt, pepper and garlic. Boil 2-3 eggs. Pull meat off turkey neck. Place meat, liver and giblets in food processor to a medium chop. Peel eggs and chop. Place pan juices in medium skillet, a tablespoon or so of flour and whisk to prevent lumps. Add chopped meat and eggs. Add extra broth to achieve desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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