This Thanksgiving, my husband and I are in a brand new kitchen, and looking forward to hosting our first Thanksgiving for family. We just bought a house in the idyllic neighborhood of Georgetown in Savannah. We moved in on Halloween and were unloading boxes and moving furniture, as little goblins, witches and princesses approached the porch with visions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars. Thankfully, I was prepared. I passed out candy from the porch swing in between the trick-or-treaters.
We’re doing our best to get settled before the holidays (moving is a job!) and aside from our bedroom and closets, the first room I’ve focused on unpacking is the kitchen. And what a kitchen! Our new home has a little island and a good bit more counter space. In the new year, we’re looking forward to beginning renovations on some cosmetic updates, like changing wallpaper to paint, but in the meantime, we’re grateful to be in our own home and excited to cook up some great meals, starting with our Thanksgiving menu. We surely have a lot to be thankful for this year.
During Thanksgiving dinner, we all know the star of the show is a big beautiful turkey, but all leading roles need a good support cast. That’s where the side dishes come in: Sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, pineapple and Ritz cracker casserole, dinner rolls, canned cranberry sauce and dressing, of course, play a big part on my Thanksgiving table. Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and fresh Parmesan cheese is another one I always make room for in the oven. For dessert, I plan to make the classics: pumpkin, sweet potato and apple pies. Baking will begin a few days before, followed by anything I can prep or make ahead so the day of will have as little stress as possible.
Today I’m sharing my recipe for herb roasted turkey with you and some tips for achieving moist, tender meat with crispy skin. If you’ve never roasted the Thanksgiving turkey, don’t be intimidated. A turkey is nothing more than a large chicken. The technique is the same. You’ll find my recipe packed with little notes that make all the difference, and I hope you’ll put them to good use this Thanksgiving.
Remember to visit SomeKindaGood.com for the recipes mentioned in today’s column. From my family to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving. May the food you eat and the company you keep be Some Kinda Good!
Herb Roasted Turkey
- (1) 14- to 16-pound turkey
- 1 stick of softened butter
- 1 teaspoon each of chopped fresh chives, parsley, thyme and rosemary
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head of garlic, sliced in half
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Additional lemons, sliced for garnish
- Butter lettuce leaves for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the turkey out of the refrigerator for an hour to 30 minutes before cooking, to bring it to room temperature. Make the compound butter: Combine softened butter with herbs, mashing with a spoon until everything is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, mix. Remove giblets and any bagged items from the inside of the cavity of the turkey. Trim any excess fat from the neck and discard. Rinse the turkey on the inside and outside under cold running water, then pat dry, well, with paper towels to remove any moisture.
Smear the herb butter all over the turkey, coating its legs and wings well and massaging the butter into the skin on the back and front. Place a glob of the butter between the skin and the body of the turkey and push the butter around until evenly coated. Season the turkey liberally with salt and pepper on the inside of the cavity and on the outside. Stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, lemon and thyme. Drizzle the top of the bird with olive oil.
Place the bird in a roasting pan, fitted with a rack. Add water or chicken broth to the bottom of the pan, until filled about an inch up the sides. Roast the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 and cook until golden brown or a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when stuck in the thigh of the bird, about two and a half to three hours. Depending on the size of your turkey, follow package instructions for the most accurate cooking times.
Allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This ensures your bird is not dry, and allows it to cool slightly before handling. Garnish your turkey platter with sliced lemons if desired. Save the pan juices – that’s your ticket to the best gravy!
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is the author of the memoir, “Some Kinda Good: Good Food and Good Company, That’s What It’s All About!” A finalist on “Food Network Star” and ABC’s “The Taste,” she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with Rebekah on social media by liking this page: Facebook.com/SomeKindaGood, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.