Roast Turkey with Herb Butter

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We all want a nice, golden brown and juicy turkey for the holiday table. The entrance of the roasted or smoked turkey, sitting proudly on the platter, always gets everyone’s attention.  It’s placed on the table to everyone’s awe…the chef is praying that it’s not just pretty, but that its cooked perfectly-not overcooked or under-cooked, but juicy and melt in your mouth. No pressure, right?  Here’s Sweet Daddy D’s no-angst way to prepare Herb Roasted Turkey, starting with a dry brine to keep it moist and using fresh herbs and lots of butter for an unforgettable flavor.

Herb Roasted Turkey
Roast Turkey with Herb Butter

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Here’s What You Need

The Turkey

I go with a 12 to 14 pound fresh turkey, but you can go with whatever size suits your need, just adjust the ingredients proportionally and it may take a little more time. Plan on around 15-18 minutes per pound for a turkey cooked without stuffing. 

Fresh turkey on roasting rack
Fresh Turkey
Dry Brine

The Dry Brine is mostly salt-I use Kosher Salt because of the purity and the particle size.  Two other key ingredients are not exactly dry, but their oils lend a great flavor element-lemon zest and garlic through a press. The basic herbs and spices are basic: dry oregano leaves, dry basil leaves, dry thyme leaves and fresh ground black pepper.

Dry brine ingredients for a herb roasted turkey
Dry Brine Ingredients
Herb-Butter Paste

Butter is good. I use salted butter, but unsalted is good. Remember to take the butter out of the refrigerator early so that it gets very soft. You’ll need more garlic, lemon juice, kosher salt and ground black pepper. The fresh herbs I use are: Oregano,  Basil, Tarragon, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage, but you can add or subtract and substitute what you like or what you can find that sounds good. The cavity is stuffed with onions, celery, lemon, oranges, apple and garlic. You’ll also bundle the leftover fresh herbs you used for the paste. 

Ingredients for herb butter paste
Herb Butter Ingredients

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Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. This will all come together in about three parts. The dry brine, the naked rest and the roasting with an herb-butter paste. If you’re not very experienced at roasting turkeys, it may seem challenging, but lets keep it no-angst by being prepared. Do your mise en place, have a beer while you read through the recipe and gather up what you need. Check out the Hints and Tips below for some other angst-relieving ideas. If you have a frozen turkey, make sure to start defrosting early.  

Mix the Brine Ingredients

This is the simple part-just mix all these dry brine ingredients together in a small bowl while you prep the turkey. To make sure the lemon zest and the garlic gets distributed throughout, you’ll likely need to use your hands.

Dry brine for a herb roasted turkey
Mix the Brine Ingredients

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Prep and Brine the Turkey

Remove the giblets from inside turkey and set them aside to use for something else. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and dry it very well with paper towels. Liberally coat turkey inside and outside with the dry brine; place the bird on a rack over a baking pan and refrigerate uncovered for 12 – 14 hours (1 hour per pound).

Dry brine on a herb roasted turkey
Spread the dry brine all over and in the turkey
Rinse and Dry the Turkey Skin

Take the bird out of the fridge and rinse off the dry brine thoroughly inside and out-make sure you’re getting all the brine out from the nooks and crannies; dry the bird with paper towels thoroughly-again, inside and out. Place the turkey back on the rack and store again in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 4 to 6 hours. The is the naked rest-this step serves to dry out the skin and make it crispy when roasted. You may be able to see that the skin is more translucent and tighter after the naked rest. 

Herb Roasted Turkey after dry brining
Rinse off the dry brine
Herb Roasted Turkey after naked rest
Turkey after a naked rest
Apply the Herb Butter Paste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. While the bird is sitting in the fridge, mix all the Herb-Butter Paste ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. The butter should be very soft, but not totally melted. Tie the fresh herb sprigs left over from the Herb Butter Paste together with butcher twine and set aside. Cut the apple, orange, yellow onion into quarters, slice the garlic in half and cut short pieces of celery. Prepare the cavity first before moving to the outside. Rub inside the cavity liberally with Herb-Butter Paste, then stuff the cavity by placing the tied herbs deep inside and follow with as much of the apple, orange, yellow onion quarters and garlic halves as possible. Depending on the size of the bird and the cavity, this may not all fit. On the outside, the Herb Butter paste will go under and over the skin. Loosen the skin on the breast side turkey by sliding your fingers under the skin and moving them deeper under the skin while you hold the skin with the other hand. Spread the Herb Butter Paste underneath the loosened skin as much as possible, then rub the Herb Butter Paste all over the outside (top and bottom) of the bird. Leave as thick of a coating as you can on top of bird. The bird will be cold, so the butter may not want to cooperate. If its thick on top, it will baste itself. It is acceptable to melt the Herb Butter Paste and liberally brush it all over the bird if you prefer.

Ingredients to stuff in herb roasted turkey cavity
Stuff the cavity with these fruits and vegetables
Herb butter paste for herb roasted turkey
Smear the herb utter all over and in the bird
Roast the Bird

Preheat the oven to 325. Spray a roasting rack and roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place the buttered bird on the roasting rack set in the roasting pan. Place it in the oven and roast at 325 degrees for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until the breast temperature is 170 and the thigh 165 degrees when measured with an instant read thermometer. The skin should be golden brown. Let the bird rest about 20 minutes and have yourself a feast.

Herb Roasted Turkey
Roast Turkey!

That’s it, all there is to it.

Hints and Tips

  • If you have a frozen turkey, make sure to start defrosting early.  There are lots of tips on the Butterball® website. 
  • Don’t forget to set the butter out to get soft a few hours before you need it.
  • Special holidays deserve special treatment-but if you want to skip the dry brine step and/or the naked rest, this will still be a delicious Herb Roasted Turkey
  • If your bird is getting too brown before its done, you can cover it loosely with foil while it roasts. Covering the points of the wings with foil will also assure that they don’t burn, which they have a tendency to do!  
  • More questions? Check with the people at Butterball®, they seem to know a lot about turkeys. Unfortunately I have no affiliation with them, I just know an expert when I see one.  
  • It’s important to make sure you are handling turkeys properly and cooking to appropriate temperatures. This is an interesting article from ThermoWorks® about all things temperature related.  The turkey is done when the temperature is right.  Make sure to use a reliable instant read thermometer to check the progress. I use the Thermopen® because it has been extremely reliable for many years. Here is the ultimate guide to turkey temperature: Turkey Thermometer Guide from ThermoWorks®.  I am proud to be affiliated with ThermoWorks® and share their wonderful products with you, but I want you to know that I will receive a small fee, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase any product through my links. 
  • Want to learn more about dry brining? Check out this informative article.  

 

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

 

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Yeah You Right!

 

Herb Roasted Turkey
Sweet Daddy D's Herb Roasted Turkey
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A dry brine and a liberal application of a herb-butter paste will result in a tender and juicy bird. So good, you won't want to just eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours
Herb Roasted Turkey
Sweet Daddy D's Herb Roasted Turkey
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A dry brine and a liberal application of a herb-butter paste will result in a tender and juicy bird. So good, you won't want to just eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
3 1/2 Hours
This is What You Need
Dry Brine
Herb Butter Paste
To Stuff the Cavity
This is What You Do
Dry Brining
  1. Mix the Dry Brine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove giblets from inside turkey and reserve for another use. Rinse turkey inside and out and dry very well with paper towels.
  3. Liberally coat turkey inside and outside with dry brine; place the bird on a rack over a baking pan and refrigerate uncovered for 12 - 14 hours (1 hour per lbs)
  4. Rinse off the dry brine thoroughly inside and out; dry the bird with paper towels; place back on the rack over the baking pan and store again in refrigerator uncovered for 4 to 6 hours or longer if possible. (This helps to dry off the skin which will help make the skin crispy when roasted).
Prepping the BIrd
  1. While the bird is sitting in the fridge, mix all the Herb-Butter Paste ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. The butter should be very soft, but not totally melted. Tie the fresh herb sprigs left over from the Herb Butter Paste (fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon and basil) together with butcher twine and set aside. Cut the apple, orange, yellow onion and garlic into the proper sizes.
  2. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator.
  3. Prepare the cavity first before moving to the outside: Rub inside the cavity liberally with Herb-Butter Paste, then stuff the cavity with herbs, fruit and veggies:
  4. Place the tied herbs deep in the cavity and follow with as much of the apple, orange, yellow onion quarters and garlic halves as possible. Depending on the size of the bird and the cavity, this may not all fit.
  5. To loosen the skin on the turkey, slide your fingers under the skin, moving your fingers deeper under the skin while you hold the skin with the other hand. Spread the Herb Butter Paste underneath the loosened skin as much as possible, then rub the Herb Butter Paste all over outside (top and bottom) of the bird. Leave as thick of a coating as you can on top of bird.
Roasting
  1. Preheat oven 325 degrees
  2. Spray a roasting rack and roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place the buttered bird on the roasting rack set in the roasting pan.
  3. Roast at 325 deg for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until breast temp is 170; thigh 165 degrees. Cover with foil if browning too much or when it is golden brown.
There is no Nutrition Label for this recipe yet.

 

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