Turkey is one of my favorite foods. Especially around the holidays. I love preparing a turkey from scratch and the aroma that wafts through the house as it roasts. Normally, I do a foil-wrapped Roasted Turkey; a technique that I learned from my mother. But, this year, I decided to create my own recipe – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Turkey.
The Simon and Garfunkel tune from the ’60’s, Scarborough Fair, was running through my head recently. Over-and-over-and-over! I don’t know why. But, that combination of herbs sounded enticing to me and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Turkey was born! Plus, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Stuffing! Tomorrow is Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Turkey Gravy (stay tuned)! I’m on a roll!
Anyway, this turkey recipe is delicious! Those herbs, smeared on the inside and outside of the turkey with butter, combine to make a very flavorful, moist and succulent turkey. And the aroma of the herbs, during preparation, roasting, carving and serving, whets your appetite!
Here’s what you do:
- Set out a stick of butter (4 ounces) to soften at room temperature. Gather parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to prepare.
- Chop 2 tablespoons of parsley, picked from their stems (about 8 sprigs).
- Chop 1 tablespoon of sage.
- Chop 1 teaspoon of rosemary, picked from the stem.
- Chop 2 teaspoons of thyme, picked from the stems (about 3 sprigs).
- Place softened butter in a mixing bowl.
- Add all prepared herbs.
- Mix with a spatula to combine well. Set aside.
- Next, prep your turkey. I purchased a frozen turkey that was 22 1/2 pounds about a week before I cooked it. I put it in an oval aluminum roasting pan, on top of a large baking sheet, in the refrigerator to defrost. A turkey that large needs to defrost, in the refrigerator, at least 4 days before it is thawed to cook.
- Next, I clean both sides of my kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. This is because I put the turkey directly in my sink to wash it and trim it for roasting. After washing with soap, rinse the sink with clean water.
- Once I’ve removed the turkey from the oval aluminum roasting pan and placed it in the sink, I wash the aluminum roasting pan with hot soapy water, rinse, dry it and place it back on the large baking sheet.
- Next, remove the exterior wrapping from the turkey and discard.
- Next, remove the giblet package from the neck cavity and the turkey neck from the body cavity.
- Remove the giblets from their package and discard the package. If making giblet gravy, place the giblets and neck in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Set on stove top and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer until cooked through (about half an hour). If not making giblet gravy, discard the giblets and neck.
- Next, I snip the plastic clamp with a pair of kitchen scissors. The instructions on the turkey will tell you NOT to do this. But, I just can’t wrap my head around cooking plastic with my turkey in an oven under high heat! Even if “they” say it’s safe, I’m skeptical and I choose not to keep the plastic clamp. It is difficult to remove, but not impossible. This step, of course, is optional depending on how you feel about plastic in your turkey!
- After some twisting and turning, the plastic clamp is removed from the turkey. Once the plastic clamp is removed, wash the turkey (inside and out) with clean, cold water; drain it and return it to the oval aluminum roasting pan, breast side up.
- With a clean towel, pat the turkey dry.
- Pour about one tablespoon of salt into the palm of your hand. Stick your hand in the turkey’s cavity and smear the salt all around the inside of the turkey.
- Next, select some apples, onions and celery to stuff your turkey’s cavity.
- Cut the apples in to quarters or sixths, removing the stem and seeds. Peel and chop onions into quarters. Trim celery to about 4-inch stalks.
- I make my stuffing in a separate pan, so stuff my turkey with apples, onions and celery for added flavor and to prevent the turkey cavity from collapsing.
- Finally, tie the turkey legs together with kitchen twine.
- Next, using your fingers and hand, start loosening the turkey skin from the turkey meat. Do this slowly so that you don’t rip the turkey skin. Try to loosen as much of the turkey skin from both turkey breasts so that you have a nice large area to smear the compound butter.
- Take a handful of the compound butter and insert it under the turkey skin with your hand, smearing it as smoothly as possible and covering as much of the turkey breast as possible.
- You’ll be able to see the compound butter under the turkey’s skin. Use your nice, greasy hands to smear the butter over the top of the skin, too!
- Next, pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in your hands and smear all over the turkey’s exterior. Be sure to grease the wings and the legs, too.
- Place the prepared turkey in a preheated 325 degree oven. A 22 1/2 pound turkey will need to cook a total of about 5 hours.
- After about 2 hours, open the oven and place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the turkey to prevent burning.
- Continue to cook for 3 more hours. Remove from oven.
- Using turkey lifters, transfer turkey to a large cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow turkey to “rest” for about 20 minutes.
- Carve the turkey, transferring the slices to a serving platter.
- Garnish turkey platter with parsley and cranberries and serve immediately.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 stick of butter (4 ounces), softened at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons thyme, picked from stems and finely minced (about 3 sprigs)
- 1 teaspoon rosemary, picked from stem and finely minced
- 1 tablespoon sage, picked from stems and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley, picked from stems and roughly chopped (about 8 sprigs)
- 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and quartered or cut into sixths
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 4-inch lengths
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 whole turkey (I used a 22½ pound turkey for this recipe)
- Kitchen twine
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees, removing all but bottom rack.
- Add softened butter to a mixing bowl and add herbs.
- Mix well with a spatula or spoon to make a compound butter and set aside.
- Place defrosted turkey in a clean sink.
- Remove exterior wrapping from turkey.
- Remove giblets and turkey neck from turkey cavities.
- If making giblet gravy, place neck and giblets (removed from their packaging material) in a small sauce pan, cover with water, place on stove top and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 30 minutes.
- If not making giblet gravy, discard giblets and neck.
- With kitchen shears, snip plastic clamp and twist until you remove it from the turkey (optional).
- Rinse turkey under cold, clear water; drain and place turkey, breast-side up, into a roasting pan (I use an oval aluminum roasting pan supported by a large baking sheet).
- Pat turkey dry with clean, dry cloth.
- Pour salt into the palm of your hand and smear inside turkey cavity.
- Stuff turkey cavity with prepared apples, onions and celery.
- Tie turkey legs together with kitchen twine.
- With your hand, carefully insert your fingers between the turkey skin and breast meat and loosen skin from meat.
- Do this carefully so that you don't rip the skin.
- Scoop compound butter into your hand and insert between the turkey skin and breast meat, smearing around until well covered.
- Smear the rest of the compound butter left on your hands around the outside of the turkey.
- Pour canola oil in the palm of your hand and smear all over the outside of the turkey, including the legs and wings.
- Place turkey in preheated oven and roast for 2 hours.
- Open oven and loosely place a large piece of aluminum foil over turkey.
- Continue cooking turkey for 3 more hours (this is based on a 22½ pound turkey; for a different size turkey, refer to roasting chart).
- Once turkey is cooked, remove foil and remove turkey from the oven.
- Using turkey lifters, remove turkey from pan and place on large cutting board.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow turkey to "rest" for 20 minutes.
- Carve turkey, transfer carved pieces to serving platter and serve immediately.
Here’s a Turkey Thawing Guide:
Here’s a Turkey Roasting Chart:
(other holiday recipes)
- Baked Sweet Potatoes with Warm Maple Drizzle and Toasted Pecans
- Christmas Caramel Apples
- Cornbread Stuffing
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Stuffing
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Parmesan
- Roasted Turkey
- Sour Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Spinach Casserole
- Thyme Roasted Carrots with Toasted Pecans
- Turkey Gravy