How To Cook A Turkey. Best Ever Turkey Recipe

The Best Turkey Recipe Is A Hybrid!

Turkey and Vegetables on a bed of Greens.

Perfect Turkey Recipe

It’s November first. I’m already craving this family favorite turkey recipe! I don’t think I can wait until Thanksgiving. In other words, there may be three or four turkeys served at my house by New Year’s Day! This recipe is so delicious, you’ll probably want to make it more than once a year, too.

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Due to Covid, your 2020 Thanksgiving turkey may be off the table. So go ahead and bookmark this page now. Then come back when you’re ready to roast your turkey and the family is gathered around again!

This recipe serves 6 to 8 people and takes approximately 3 1/2 hours because I cook my turkey unstuffed. Please note, stuffed turkeys take longer to cook.

Ingredients

1 turkey –  14 1/2 lbs.
1 orange
10 Tablespoons unsalted (room temp) butter
2 Tablespoons Molasses (I use Black Strap)
1 Cup of Red Wine with a little water in it
1/4 Cup of Kosher Salt
2 springs fresh sage
1/4 Cup coarsely ground black pepper
2-3 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Affiliate links in case you need a roasting pan!

Turkey Pan Tips – Use A Rack

I use a rack inside of a covered enamel pan like the one pictured above. Using a rack is good for keeping the bird from sticking to the bottom of the pan, or burning on the bottom while baking. A lid is handy to have, however it limits the size of the turkey.

No Rack? No Problem!

If you don’t have a rack, you can make one by using fresh celery stalks laid out in a grid underneath your turkey. This has the added benefit of contributing depth of flavor to your pan drippings when you go to make your gravy. If you’re not in the mood for a big clean up job at the end of the day, I recommend using the disposable foil pans. You can toss them out when you’re done.If you’re taking your turkey to someone else’s house, you won’t have to ask for your pan back before you go home – or worse; go home with a dirty turkey roaster!

The rack with the handles is good for getting the bird out of the pan easily when the cooking is done. We have a pair of big meat forks and I use those to handle the hot turkey. There have been some close calls though, so the rack with handles is probably a better option. Whichever pan you use, it’s really a matter of personal choice. Each one has its own advantages.

The Prep

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While the oven is heating, rinse turkey, remove gizzards, pat dry. Rub mixture between skin and meat, being careful not to pierce the skin. If you have any extra after the rub, put it inside the cavity with the whole orange (I usually poke a few holes in the orange to release some of the juice during cooking).

Rub the skin on the outside of the turkey with the remaining 2 T of butter. Once that’s done, place some of the sage leaves between the skin and the breast meat. I like to arrange them in a sort of chevron pattern which looks beautiful when the turkey is finished cooking. Put any extra sage in the cavity with the orange.

Bake It

Put the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour the wine over the bird. Cook 1/2 hour breast side down, 1/2 hour more breast up (to brown). Tent loosely with foil and baste during remainder of cooking time. Serve with grapes. (Make sure to let the bird rest for about 10 or 15 minutes before carving.

When all is said and done, you’ll have a succulent, beautiful turkey with exceptional flavor. Want to change things up this year? Home alone? No turkey?

Isn’t It Romantic?

We’re doing things a little differently around here this year. For the first time in decades, we won’t have guests at the table! No kids. Nada. Just my husband and me, like a few stolen holidays from our early days together.

We’re going to make tamales. That’ll be a first, but it won’t be our first unusual Thanksgiving. When our daughter was little, we packed up everything from the tablecloth and candles, stuffing and sauce, dishes and dogs and took the whole feast to the beach! A deserted beach, on a mild So Cal day? Divine!

Do It Differently

More than once, we laid out our table in the backyard. A few kernels of popcorn were placed at each place setting. During dinner, our guests we’re invited to place the kernels, one by one, onto the table as they thought of things they were thankful. When dinner was over, we tossed the kernels into the fire pit for a popcorn fireworks display.

For years before our daughter was born, my husband and I packed up Thanksgiving leftovers to devour outside under the stars as we spent the long holiday weekend camping in the mountains – a luxury living in California affords.

Another year, when our daughter was small and family too far away or unable to travel, we indulged in separate dinners. We each chose our favorite frozen meal and ate TV dinners together on a blanket spread out on the floor. We wore matching pajamas. All. Day. Long.

2020

How will you turn THIS Thanksgiving into a fond future memory? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you. If you end up with more turkey than you intended check out my Turkey Enchilada Casserole. It’s the perfect way to switch off turkey overload and make leftovers seem like inspiration. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, I’m wishing you and yours health, wealth and well being, today and always.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
 
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Comments

How To Cook A Turkey. Best Ever Turkey Recipe — 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Turkey. T-day Minus 4 | EncinoMom

  2. Turkey recipe looks good except for the cooking time. 1/2 hour breast side down & 1/2 hour more breast up would leave a raw turkey…I think I’ll cook it longer
    • Thanks Sharyl! Yes 1/2 hour breast side down and 1/2 breast side up is NOT enough. Total cooking time should be about 3 1/2 hours. The first hour is for browning. Once you turn and tent the bird you’ve still got 2 1/2 hours to go. Enjoy!
  3. This sounds absolutely yummy. On my way to the store to pick up a turkey. Waiting until Thanksgiving would be too long to wait to enjoy this delicious sounding turkey.
    • Hi Sherry,

      Have you ever brined your bird? I just brined and baked some chicken. I know some people brine their turkeys. I’ve never cooked turkey in a deep fryer, either. I’d love to hear whether you’ve had success with either of those methods?

      Cheers,
      Lisa

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