Wonderful fat turkeys are raised and plentiful in the Shenandoah Valley. This recipe takes advantage of our bounty and traditionally graces our Thanksgiving table. I don't care for stuffing our turkey; instead, I cook it separately using turkey stock freshly made with either the giblets or smoked turkey wings (which is luscious!). I seem to tweak my recipe every year---below is as of November, 2006, so keep checking every year! (Also, I've tried to simplify the process for folks who aren't very experienced roasting turkeys.)

The latest rage is brining the turkey prior to roasting. If you're interested in this process and want to try it, check out this page in my "Back To Basics Section".
Serves: 6-8

1 10-12 pound fresh turkey -- thawed if frozen
1/2 cup garlic-butter flavor injector liquid * -- optional
4 large carrots -- cut in chunks
4 stalks celery -- cut in chunks
1 large onion -- cut in chunks
4 cloves garlic -- halved
1 handful fresh parsley sprigs
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
2 - 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 cups turkey or chicken stock or white wine **
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon powder or 1 tbs.grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 stick butter
2 bay leaves

Remove giblets from large cavitiy and neck cavity; save to make stock, to add to gravy, or discard. Wash turkey thoroughly under cold running water inside and outside, making sure there is no debris remaining on the skin. Wipe dry with paper towels, and complete injectioln process according to directions. Wrap turkey tightly in heavy-duty foil, put in refrigerator immediately; let marinate up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare the roasting pan. Calculate total roasting time--it should be approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours (depending on weight--judge about 15 minutes per pound), until thigh meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer.

Use a roasting pan just large enough to hold the turkey comfortably. Scatter about 3/4 of the chunks of celery, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley sprigs and thyme sprigs over the bottom of the pan (this creates a "rack" that adds a huge amount of flavor to the pan juices later. Make sure the bottom of the pan is completely covered with a single layer of vegetables, adding more vegetables and herbs if needed.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, lemon powder or zest, and cayenne, and set aside.

Scour the sink to remove any bacteria, and rinse well with cold water. Dump the turkey sinto the sink. Remove packets of giblets and neck from both the large cavitiy and neck cavity. Save giblets and neck to make stock, or discard. Wash turkey thoroughly under cold running water inside and outside, making sure there is no debris remaining. Wipe dry throughly, inside the cavities and the outside skin, with paper towels. If necessary, tuck the ends of the drumsticks under the existing band of skin, or secure with metal skewers, or tie with kitchen cord. Tuck wing-tips behind and under the back.

Liberally season both of the turkey cavities with some of the salt mixture and rub it in, then skewer the neck skin closed. Turn the turkey breast side down, and slather the back of the turkey liberally with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with some of the salt mixture and rub it in.

Turn the turkey over and place it breast side up on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Loosely stuff the large cavity of the turkey with the remaining egetables and herbs. Liberally slather the remaining olive oil over the breast, legs and wings. Sprinkle the turkey with the remaining salt mixture and rub it in. Pour about 2 cups of the turkey or chicken stock into the bottom of the roasting pan around the vegetables (not over the turkey), making sure it does not touch the bottom of the turkey. **If using white wine, prepare a mixture of broth and wine to use, proportions as desired.

Put the turkey into the oven and roast 1 hour. Then melt the stick of butter with the 2 bay leaves in a small bowl (microwave 25 seconds on High), and begin basting the turkey with the butter mixture (and some of the pan juices, if desired), then baste again every 30 minutes until the turkey is done.

- If the turkey seems to be browning to quickly, cover the breast loosely with a tent of heavy-duty foil.
- If liquid in bottom of pan dries out, add additional stock, white wine, or water 1-2 cups at a time.)

Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a large platter, remove and discard all the vegetables from the cavity. Tent the bird with foil to keep warm and moist. Let sit about 20-30 minutes before carving.

If not using pan juices for gravy, ladle veggies and all, into a large plastic container, seal tightly and refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. (Good with fat removed, then liquid strained and used as a base for soups, gravies or casseroles.)

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Copyright 2004 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved