Enjoy this flavorful roasted turkey with herb butter and maple glaze to amaze your guests this Thanksgiving. Both the butter and the glaze take this turkey to the next level.
The key to a moist and flavorful turkey is to bring the turkey to room temperature before placing it in a hot oven, cooking it to the proper internal temperature and then, let the meat rest at least 30 minutes, (45 minutes is even better) so the juices have a chance to seep back into the meat. It is sad to see a juice logged carving board when all that moisture could have been back in the meat if it had rested a little longer.
Step 1: Prepping the Turkey
The first step is to remove the turkey from the brine. This is best managed with some help. Set up a baking sheet right next to the bird so it is easy to transfer. Take the brined turkey from the brining solution and rinse well. Remember to rinse both the inside cavities and the outside of the bird. Place the turkey on the prepared baking sheet and let it come to room temperature for 45 minutes. This is the perfect time to prepare the herb butter and maple glaze for roasting as well as prep the roasting pan and oven for the bird. Just remember to plan this resting time into your turkey cooking timeline.
Carefully dispose of the brining solution and bag. Wash the sink with soap and bleach to make sure there are no turkey juices splashed around that could pose a food risk.
Step 2: Prepping the Oven
While the bird is resting, prepare your oven, position the rack so the roasting pan and turkey will fit. You may need to remove a rack while the turkey is roasting so there is enough clearance between the bird and the top of the oven. If using disposable roasting pans, It is a good idea to either double layer the pan or place the flimsy pan on a baking sheet. It may seem sturdy now, but holding the weight of the turkey and after several hours in a hot oven will be a different story so plan ahead.
Step 3: Applying the Herb Butter
After the bird had lost its chill, pat the outside and in inside dry with paper towels. It is important to get the inside cavity dry so roasting can start as soon as the meat hits the heat of the oven.
Placing herb butter under the skin gives the meat a flavor boost as well as protecting the delicate breast meat. To this using your fingers gently loosen the skin from each side of the breastbone. There is a membrane that connects the skin to the meat and this is what you are breaking. Go slowly so you don’t poke through the skin. Maneuver your fingers down over the legs of the turkey.
After loosening the skin from the turkey from the large cavity end on both sides of the breastbone, turn the turkey and repeat the process from the neck end.
Brush olive oil to the outside of the turkey
Take a larger knob of herb butter and spread it under the skin with your fingers. Using your other hand, press on the outer part of the skin to help spread the butter so it covers all the breast meat. Repeat on the other end so the butter is all used up. Some people like to spread the seasoned butter on the bottom of the bird and on top of the skin. I find that it melts too quickly to really affect the meat. So I brush the whole turkey with olive oil and that helps the skin crisp but doesn’t just add a lot of fat to the drippings that are separated off at the end of cooking.
Salt and pepper the cavity. I like to stuff the large cavity with 1 large onion cut into halves or quarters, and 1 orange also quartered. You can add sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and sage in the cavity as well. Pull the skin over the large cavity.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Step 4: Trussing a Turkey
Take a 12” piece of baking twine and tie a slip knot at one end. Position the twine over one of the turkey legs and tighten the loop. Cross the ends of the turkey legs and wrap the long end of the baking twine in a figure eight to hold both legs in place. Tie the twine in a knot.
Tuck each wing under the turkey like you would place your hands behind your back. The weight of the bird will hold them in place if they are securely tucked. (No need to tie them with twine.) By tucking and tying the turkey the meat stays compact and this helps everything cook at the same rate.
Step 5: Into the Roasting Pan
Transfer the bird to the rack of the roasting pan. (If you don’t have a roasting pan, slice two onions into 1-1/2” slices and use them as a makeshift roasting rack. You want the bird to sit above the liquid in the bottom of the pan so it will roast rather than steam.
I like to add some large chunks of carrots, celery, onions to the bottom of the pan to boost the gravy. Add enough liquid, (turkey stock, chicken stock, dry sherry, etc) to make 1/4” liquid in the roasting pan. You can add the liquid after moving the roasting pan to the oven.
Step 6: Cooking the Turkey
Roast the turkey at 425°F for 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and cook until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the turkey breast (but not touching the bone) reads 155°F, carry-over cooking while the turkey rests will bring the temperature to the magic spot of 165°F. Check the turkey thigh (also making sure to not touch the bone) for a temperature of 165°F while in the oven. Since the dark meat is closer to the pan, it should reach a higher temperature at the same time the breast meat cooks to 10° lower.
To estimate cooking times, plan on about 25-30 minutes per pound, remembering you have roasted for 30 minutes is the higher temperature and that time is included in the cooking time.
Step 7: Adding the maple glaze
About halfway through cooking, brush the turkey all over with the maple glaze, check that the liquid in the bottom and top it off with 1-2 cups of water if it is getting low. If the turkey breast is golden brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to keep the skin from burning and continue roasting. You can brush the maple butter glaze on the turkey again when you start checking the internal temperature.
Step 8: Resting the Turkey
Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest on the rack for 10 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil and rest for 45 minutes.
Take out the rack and deglaze the roasting pan getting all the browned bits (which are called fond) to add to the gravy.
Next week I’ll give a step by step tutorial for carving the turkey.Print
A moist and richly flavored whole turkey with minimal basting. Cooked to perfection and ready to be the star of your Thanksgiving feast.
- 1 turkey, brined and patted dry
- 1–2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 12–15” baking twine
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 2 sage leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened,
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Maple Butter Glaze
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- Remove turkey from the refrigerator and/or brine and bring to toom tempature for 45 minutes.
- Make the Herb butter by mincing the herbs, softening the butter and combine the ingredients in a small container until well mixed.
- Make the Maple Butter Glaze by melting the butter and stirring the maple syrup and poutry seasoning.
- Pat the turkey dry both inside and out.
- Carefully insert the herb butter under the skin of the turkey from both ends and sides of the breat bone.
- Salt and pepper the large cavity and insert the onion, orange and herbs, pull the skin over the opening.
- Truss the turkey legs and tuck the wings under the bird.
- Place the turkey on the roasting rack and add liquid to the the bottom of the roasting pan, (about 2-3 cups depending on the size of the roasting pan).
- Roast in a 425°F oven for 3o minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and continue roasting until the turkey breast meat reaches 155°F and the dark meat of the turkey thigh and leg reaches 165° F. Plan on 25-30 minutes per pound. But cook to temperature.
- Halfway through cooking, brush the turkey all over with the maple butter glaze Check the liquid in the bottom and top it off with 1-2 cups of water if it is getting low. If the turkey breast is golden brown, cover it loosely with aluminum foil to keep the skin from burning and continue roasting.
- Brush the maple butter glaze on the turkey again when you start checking the internal temperature.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest on the rack for 10 minutes.
- Remove to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil and rest for 45 minutes.
- Carve and serve warm.
Keywords: roasted turkey, herb butter, maple butter glaze