November 11, 2007

Herbal Turkeys

I thought since Thanksgiving is coming Id give you some herbal turkey ideas. The Thanksgiving turkey in our house has to be made the same most times, but I am able to tweak it here and there without the family knowing it. For instance, I now regularly brine my bird overnight after a particularly wonderful deep fried one a friend made here one yr. You can do that to your baked bird too. It comes out tender and juicy and stays that way even when cold for sandwiches the next day. I was amazed! No more dry bird.

Roasted Heritage Turkey with Herbs

Start with a fresh or completely thawed turkey. (Thaw in

the refrigerator, one to three days before cooking, depending on the size of the turkey.) If you choose to stuff the

turkey, do it just before roasting to avoid the risk of contamination. Serve with gravy made from the vegetable- and herb-flavored broth left in the roasting pan.

8- to 12-pound turkey
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
5 or 6 whole sage leaves
3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cups chicken broth (or turkey broth, if available)
4 ounces soft butter

Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove giblets from turkey, then rinse and pat it dry. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Carefully slide your hand between the skin and the breast and leg meat, then tuck thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic under the skin.

Stuff the bird loosely. Before placing the turkey in the roasting pan, add the diced carrots, onions, celery and sprigs of fresh herbs. Place turkey in pan on top of vegetables, then add broth. Rub turkey breast and legs with butter. Roast uncovered, basting occasionally, for approximat

ely 2½ to 3 hours (a stuffed turkey takes longer to cook), or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Allow turkey to rest 20 minutes before carving.

For gravy, remove herb sprigs from broth. Allow broth to cool slightly, then skim off some of the excess fat. In a medium saucepan, heat remaining broth and pan scrapings. Meanwhile, dissolve cornstarch in cold water; add mixture to hot broth, stirring until broth thickens. Use a handheld blender to puree the vegetables and finish the gravy.

Makes 6 to 8 servings plus leftovers


1 Cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
1/2 Cup Fresh Sage Leaves
1/2 Cup Fresh Rosemary Leaves

1/2 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves
22 Medium Garlic Cloves, about 3 heads
1 10 Pound Turkey, preferably organic or free-range (10 to 12)
1 Large Or 2 Medium Onions, sliced into thin rings
2 Tablespoons Plus 1 Teaspoon Grapeseed Oil
Roasted-garlic gravy:
1 Head Garlic, end cut off, brushed with olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil
3 1/2 Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth, preferably organic
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour

One day ahead: Process herbs and garlic in food processor until finely minced. Set aside.
Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Trim excess fat. Place turkey in large nonreactive bowl. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by gently inserting fingers between skin and meat. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper under and over skin. Then spread garlic-herb rub under skin and gently press skin to adhere. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck into turkey. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

To roast: Let turkey stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving. Set oven rack at lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread sliced onions on bottom of heavy-bottomed roasting pan and place fitted rack over top. (Or place the turkey directly on bed of onions. T

hey will prevent sticking and flavor drippings.) Brush turkey with grapeseed oil and carefully transfer to rack.

Brush one side of double-folded sheet of aluminum foil with grapeseed oil and tent, greased side down, over turkey breast. Place turkey in oven so legs face back of oven and bird, breast side up, faces door. Place wrapped garlic on oven rack. Roast 45 minutes, Remove garlic from oven. Remove foil from turkey and turn pan around. Roast until thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 170 degrees and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (see note below), about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to platter and reserve pan drippings.
Let turkey stand 20 minutes before carving.

Prepare gravy while turkey rests: Pour drippings into 4-cup glass measure, and skim off fat that rises to surface, reserving 1 tablespoon fat (see tip below). Add enough broth to drippings to measure 3 cups. Separate roasted garlic cloves. Squeeze pulp into small bowl and mash well with fork. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat reserved fat. Add garlic and flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in broth mixture. Bring to boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and remove from heat. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.

I brine my bird overnite. A friend made a deep fried one , one yr for me and we brined it then. It came out awesome and so tender. So since this brine I found online was for a baked bird , I tried it that way the yr. after. It came out tender, juicy and made tons of gravy. And the leftovers stayed tender and juicy too.


1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.) Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.
Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

I also slice the lemons and oranges and squeeze them before I throw them in the brine to release all the juices into the brine. I have put this in a lg pot and left it rm temp over nite as long as the bird is totally covered. The salt should keep it overnite. Ive had huge birds tho and when I do I use a sm . cooler to brine it in over nite. Rinse the bird off to get all the loose herbs and extra salt off then pat dry with paper towels before continuing with your recipe. * Last year I had a 22lb bird and had nothing to brine it in. Then I remembered my camping cooler. It was perfect! I could leave it out so it didnt take up room in my refrigerator. I just tossed some ice in with the water so it stayed cold all nite and kept it covered.

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