Mmmmm turkey! I only make it once a year, but it’s a favorite. There are lots of exotic recipes out there for cooking your Thanksgiving bird, but my family tradition has always been the stuffed-to-the-gills version, with homemade bread stuffing and roasted right inside the bird in the oven (see image above).
Nowadays we all know it is not a good idea to eat stuffing baked inside the turkey. Sad, but true. So even though I am likely to take my chances this Thanksgiving, below please find an easy aromatics recipe for stuffing the bird; the aromatics get thrown out and you get to eat the much safer, baked-outside-the-bird bread stuffing. This recipe keeps your bird moist while allowing it to brown beautifully.
Serve with lots of homemade gravy! I will post a gravy recipe this Thanksgiving, I keep forgetting to do that 🙂
One fresh or thawed turkey, anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds
For the turkey:
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 -14.5 oz can low-salt chicken broth or stock or 1 3/4 cup homemade no salt chicken stock
1/2 stick cold butter, sliced into thin pats
fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary leaves, depending on turkey size
For the aromatics (use less for a 10 lb. turkey, more for a 20 lb.):
1-2 yellow onions, quartered
2-3 large carrots, rinsed, chopped into large pieces
1-2 stalks celery, rinsed, chopped into large pieces
2-3 whole sprigs fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage (or one or two of each)
Heat oven to 325 F.
Remove neck, gizzards, or anything else that the butcher placed in the turkey cavity. Place the turkey in the sink and carefully run cold tap water (don’t blast it, just a steady flow) through the cavity until the water that comes out of the turkey runs clear. Drain all the water out of the cavity and use paper towels to pat dry the inside and outside of the turkey.
Place the turkey on a large cutting board and stuff cavity with aromatics.
In a medium-sized sauce pan, mix butter and chicken stock over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until butter is melted and mixture is hot. While stock mixture is heating, use your fingers and/or a sharp knife to carefully pull the turkey skin away from the breasts; you do not want to completely sever the skin from the turkey, just pull it up enough to be able to put butter pats under the skin. Work the pats of cold butter beneath the skin of both breasts, an equal number of pats per side. Pat the skin down with your fingers, if necessary, to resume its original shape.
Brush the butter/stock mixture over turkey with a large basting brush. Cover turkey with salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary leaves.
Place turkey in shallow roasting pan and form a tent over the turkey with foil (foil should not touch turkey). Place in oven (do not let foil or pan touch sides or top of oven).
Total bake time (estimates – each oven is different and you should check often):
2 to 3 hours for 10 to 12 lb turkey
3 to 4 hours for 12 to 16 lb turkey
4 to 5 hours for 16 to 20 lb turkey
About halfway through bake time, fold back the foil and baste the turkey with the chicken stock/butter mixture. Replace foil tent and continue baking.
For the last hour of baking (or, when thermometer is approaching 160):
Increase oven temp to 425 F. Remove foil, baste turkey with stock/butter mixture, and return bird to oven to brown.
Test for doneness with meat thermometer- middle of inside bird should be at least 165 degrees F in the breast, or 180 degrees F in the thigh.
When turkey is done, remove from oven, replace the foil and drape some kitchen towels over the entire turkey. Let it rest like this for 30 min. (This is the time to put your stuffing in the oven.)
After resting period:
Remove towels. Remove aromatics from turkey cavity and discard. Carve your turkey!