There are countless ways to roast a turkey and you’ll find a million different variations and seasonings if you search the internet. I am a lover of sage, so I use Rubbed Dalmatian Sage. I have tried using fresh sage leaves, but I find it does not work as well as the rubbed sage.
Tip for beginners:
- BUY A BUTTERBALL TURKEY! They are self basting and pretty impossible to screw up. They may cost a bit more, but are well worth it in the end. If you have never cooked a turkey before, this is the turkey for you.
- INVEST IN A MEAT THERMOMETER! Do NOT rely on that stupid little white plastic idiot stick to tell you when the turkey is done. They get stuck and/or they pop too soon as they are not in the deepest part of the turkey.
- THAW the turkey thoroughly. If you do not, the results will be disaster and you’ll be ordering Chinese or Pizza for dinner.
- Cook the turkey SLOWLY…I do 325 degrees for as long as it takes…turning up the heat will only dry out your turkey…let it get nice and happy, SLOWLY.
- Buy a disposable roasting pan (the kind with the metal rack around it with handles. Make sure it is heavy duty and be very careful.) I place a large baking sheet under the roasting pan and remove it from the oven with by the sheet to prevent it from warping and sending Tom flying to the floor. This makes for easy cleanup as you simply throw it away. They are inexpensive, too.
- Cooking times are approximate. Always check temperature with meat thermometer. A 12-16 pound Stuffed Turkey will take approximately 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. An turkey without stuffing will cook faster, approximately 2 1/2 – 3/12 hours. A general rule is 20-30 minutes per pound. Every bird is different. Some will cook faster than others, some ovens run hotter than others. USE YOUR THERMOMETER!
- 15-20 Pound Turkey (Butterball preferred)
- Sage Butter (see recipe below)
- Sage Stuffing (see recipe below)
- 1 cup Chicken Broth
- Disposable Surgical Gloves (non powder kind)
- Aluminum Foil (Heavy duty preferred or double the regular)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Prepare Sage Stuffing as per recipe, set aside, and let stand to cool. Prepare Sage Butter as per recipe and set aside (do not refrigerate). Prepare your turkey for roasting: Remove packaging, reach inside the cavity and neck and remove giblets and any foreign objects. Wash turkey thoroughly (inside and out) and pat dry. Place turkey breast side up in large roasting pan. Loosely stuff turkey with prepared sage stuffing. (if you have extra you can place in a casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or if you prefer not to stuff your turkey you can bake at 350 in large casserole for 30-45 minutes until outside is golden brown and crunchy. I freeze any extra and use for baked stuffed pork chops later.) Here is where you need the gloves…this is messy…put on the gloves and using your index finger poke through the membrane and lift the skin at the top of the breast so you have an opening between the meat and skin. Now, work your hand in between the skin and breast meat so the skin is lifted from the meat on both sides of the breast bone. (you are making a pocket, not removing the skin.) Hold the skin up at the front of the stuffed cavity and with the other hand grab a scoop of the sage butter and stuff it in the pocket and slather it all around inside there. Don’t be afraid, you can’t put too much in there. Do this on both sides of the breast. Now grab another scoop of the sage butter (you can always make more if you need it) and slather it all over the outside of the turkey so that all the outside skin is covered with sage butter. Don’t worry about the bottom, that will take care of itself as it cooks. Take two sticks of butter and half them. Arrange them around the bottom of the roasting pan. Place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey thigh just below the breast being careful not to lay it against a bone. Now is where it helps to have a nice strong man around. Get him to put the turkey into the oven. If you don’t have one of those laying around watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, well PLEASE BE CAREFUL and place the turkey in the oven (bottom rack). Add 1 cup of Chicken broth to roaster pan and 1 tablespoon each of Sage, Nature’s Seasons, and Poultry Seasoning. Give it a little stir to get the seasonings all around the pan. Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes. This will seal the outside and start a nice browning of the skin. Now, lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Take a rectangular piece of aluminum foil and fold in the middle (I fold the middle over a few times to make it thick at the top) to form a “tent” for your turkey. Place foil tent over turkey. Set kitchen timer for 30 minutes. (This is VERY IMPORTANT!) Every 30 minutes, you need to baste that turkey with the pan juices. If you don’t have a turkey baster, they are cheap I suggest investing in one, but a very large spoon or ladle will do the job. Just gently pour that pan juice all over the turkey several times. I even baste the stuffing. Remember to set your timer for 30 minutes so you don’t forget. The turkey will be fine if you forget, however it will be awesome if you don’t forget. Watch your thermometer and when it reaches 165 degrees pull it out and place inside the stuffing. The center temperature of the stuffing should rise to 185 degrees. Oh boy, Tom Turkey is done and HAPPY! Well, almost. If you want the skin crispy and dark, turn oven back up to 450 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes (without the tent). Turn off oven and CAREFULLY remove turkey from the oven and place on a heat proof surface. Let stand for 20 minutes. This will allow turkey to cool and set the juices. You can prepare your potatoes and vegetables while Tom is cooling down. Also, now is the time to put any homemade pies you made in the oven to cook or bake your yams or green bean casserole. I actually purchased a wonderful little convection toaster oven that is great for allowing me to bake two things at different temps. This year I cheated and bought pies in the bakery, so I’m just going to warm them in the oven while we are eating dinner. Set your table. Carefully transfer the turkey to a large platter. Remove stuffing and transfer to a serving bowl. At this point you can carve turkey and arrange on serving platter or take to the table as is and carve at the table. Make your FOOL PROOF GRAVY (recipe below). Do not throw away the turkey carcass after carving and removing the meat! Save it in the refrigerator or freezer to make Turkey Stock for Turkey Stew/Soup.
HOMEMADE NATURE’S SEASONING
This will make approximately 1/2 cup of all purpose seasoning.
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
- 2 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 3 tablespoon Fine ground Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Ground Pepper (or ground black pepper if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon Celery Salt
- 3-4 Sticks of softened BUTTER (not margarine, not fake butter, BUTTER-let butter stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours to soften)
- 1 jar Rubbed Dalmatian Sage
- 1 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Homemade Natures Seasonings
Using a fork, blend all ingredients together well.
This butter is also a great alternative to for bread instead of garlic bread. Slice bread and spread butter on one side. Place on cookie/baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown around edges and on bottom.
- 6 cups dried cubed bread or stuffing mix (such as pepperidge farms)
- 1 large or 2 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 celery hearts chopped (about 2 cups) Hint: I cut the ends off, pick the best pieces for stuffed celery and save the ends for my turkey stock for turkey stew/soup. The rest I chop for the stuffing.
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons rubbed Dalmatian Sage
- 1 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Homemade Nature’s Seasoning
- 1 stick butter
- Chicken Broth approximately 2 cups
Melt butter in large saucepan, saute onions, celery, and garlic until soften but not browned. Pour over bread cubes in large bowl and mix well. Add chicken broth, little a time until all breadcrumbs are moist and stay together if try to form a ball. Let stand 5 minutes, fluff with a fork. Add more broth if necessary. Stuff Turkey loosely (or place in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.)
FOOL PROOF GRAVY
- Pan drippings plus Chicken broth to equal 4 cups
- 4 heaping teaspoons flour
- Gravy master if darker color is desired
Carefully pour the pan drippings into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken broth to make 4 cups. (Yes I did say four cups- you want gravy left for hot turkey sandwiches don’t you?) If you prefer you can let it sit in refrigerator for a few minutes and remove some of the fat. Pour into a large microwave proof bowl. Add four heaping tablespoons of flour (one at a time) and using a whisk, whisk until flour is dissolved and no lumps are present. Place in microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes. Whisk again and heat on high for 1 minute. Whisk again. Repeat at 1 minute intervals until gravy is thick and yummy. Transfer to a gravy boat or measuring up (creamer will also work) with a pour spout. If gravy is not thick enough, you can mix 1 tablespoon of flour with 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Slowly pour water/flour mixture into gravy while whisking to prevent lumping. Continue microwaving at 1 minute intervals until desired consistency is reached. DO NOT COOK FOR MORE THAN 1 MINUTE INTERVALS – You will end up with a big glob of goo.