Ed note: I'm posting this on behalf of Alana, who is actually cooking this today. Photos, if not animated GIFs, will follow shortly. - [dave]
Anybody can make a spectacular roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or Tuesdays – whatever; I am convinced of it. I too was once deterred by this seemingly insurmountable task, but I was lucky to be given parts of this recipe from a trusted friend one year when I unexpectedly had to take over the holiday cooking duties in my family due to illness. I was daunted, but the recipe proved to be tried-and-true and it has sustained me for about 6 years now. Over time, I have added bits to it, using the advice of more trusted friends (and their moms!) and what is left is a hodge-podge of a recipe that I can hardly take credit for. It has been seasoned with love from every corner of my life and I promise that it will translate that into your own life as well. Trust me, this recipe will make your loved ones drool and think you are a magician. It’s not that hard, it just isn’t. There is a little prep work to be done, but it’s worth it and once it’s in the oven it’s in and you’re (mostly) free until the little red automatic timer pops out. Be bold! Go forth! Try this fool-proof recipe and you’ll never look back again.
Prep Time: 45-1hr for garlic butter mixture, 25 minutes for the rest of the prep.
Serves: 8 to 10 servings
· I whole head of garlic
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
· 1 stick of butter, slightly softened
Several hours before you begin roasting your turkey, roast your head of garlic in the oven by slicing off the top, covering it with the olive oil and wrapping it in aluminum foil. Stick it in the oven, cut side up, at 350º for about 45 minutes. You will likely smell it when it’s done. Cloves should be soft like butter on the inside. You may want to place a pan underneath to catch any drippings so that they don’t burn on the floor of your oven. When the garlic is roasted and has cooled, squeeze out the cloves and mix them with the butter and sage to form a thick paste.
· 1 turkey – the size depend on how many people you are feeding. 1½lb per person generally. The recipe below is for a 14-16 lb turkey. If using a frozen turkey, remember to give it 2-3 days in the refrigerator to defrost. Forgetting this step may lead to a sad Thanksgiving if no fresh turkeys are available.
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1/2 medium onion
· 1/2 lemon
· 8-10 stalks of celery
· 1 carrot (or 2 mini carrots)
· 1-2 cloves of garlic
· 1/2 red apple
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 1 tablespoon Bell’s seasoning
· 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
· 4 pieces of bacon – any kind will do
· 1 cup of apple cider
Adjust a rack to lowest position and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove turkey parts from neck and breast cavities and reserve for other uses, if desired. Dry bird well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper inside the breast cavity and stuff the onion, lemon, garlic, 1 stalk of celery, carrots, and apple inside. Using your fingers to separate the skin from the bird, start at the neck area and make your way into the breast are, making space. Fill that space with the garlic-butter-sage mixture. In your roasting pan, arrange the remaining celery stalks horizontally. Set the bird in the roasting pan on top of the celery; breast side up and massage generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, Bell's seasoning and ginger. Cover the breast and lower portion of the bird with the bacon slices. If using flavored bacon, I generally dip in water gently to rinse off any seasoning before applying. Pour the apple cider around the base of the bird. Tent the bird with foil.
Roast the turkey for 2 hours. Remove the foil and baste with the juices and cider from the bottom of the pan. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F and continue to roast until the timer pops out and/or a meat thermometer registers 165-180 degrees F in the thigh of the bird, about 45 minutes more.Juices should run clear.
Remove turkey form the oven and set aside to rest for 15-30 minutes before carving. Carve and serve with gravy. You can make delicious gravy by taking the pan drippings from the roasting pan and boiling them in a sauce pan on top of your stove until it reduces slightly. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and spoon out about 3-4 tablespoons of this liquid into a glass bowl, add a teaspoon of flour or Wondra and whisk it with a whisk or fork until it thickens. Set this aside. To the mixture in the saucepan, whisk in about half a pack of McCormack's turkey gravy (yes, I know this is cheating, but hey, it's delicious), a tablespoon of spicy brown,whole grain or dijon mustard, and the flour mixture. Whisk this all together and then turn up the heat again until gravy thickens to desired consistency. You can always add more flour/Wondra in the method described above to thicken your gravy more during this process should you desire. Serve with the carved turkey and enjoy!!!