Citrus Herb And Butter Turkey
Crispy skin and perfectly tender turkey meat in only a few simple steps. Making a turkey can be intimidating for many - myself included. I’m still slowly getting more comfortable cooking large pieces of meat. What I am very good at is reading and doing my research. I have compiled a few simple techniques I have learned and experimented with to bring you a no-fail perfectly tender turkey. I’m going to keep things quite simple and going to try and keep things brief as well.
To brine or not to brine? The answer it ALWAYS brine. Wet brine is great but I don’t have the space and I have a huge huge aversion to any kind of meat juice, so when it comes to larger pieces of meat like turkey or even a chicken I prefer dry brining. For smaller cuts like pork chops I will still do a wet brine though. Why brine? Besides adding flavour through aromatics like garlic and bay leaves, brining helps meat retain moisture through the cooking process, resulting in unbelievably tender turkey – say goodbye to dry turkey!
How does dry brining work? The salt basically draws moisture from the bird. Once the salt dissolves, the moisture is reabsorbed, salt in tow, tenderizing the meat and maintaining its flavour without watering it down. Since there is no extra liquid used, roasting will yield a beautifully brown and crispy skin. It’s simple to do and it’s worth doing. For good results set aside 24 hours with the brine, but for the best flavor, you want the brine to work it’s magic for three days so make sure and plan accordingly. Then when you are ready to roast, fry or smoke, use any recipe including this one. Just remember not to add extra salt and there is also no need to wipe off the salt mixture either. Just carry on with whatever recipe you want. Also a note, make sure that your turkey is thawed before brining and also make sure it hasn’t been injected with salt either as this could affect the flavour and saltiness of turkey.
This is my first time using this method for roasting my turkey and I will literally never roast it any other way. What does the cheesecloth do? The cheesecloth helps insulate the breast and slow down the cooking, which can help keep it from overcooking and drying out in the time needed to cook the dark meat through. It gets soaked in butter and flavorings and lays over the turkey almost protecting it in a way. You can remove the cheesecloth for the last half hour for the turkey to get a deeper brown colour but I didn’t do this and still got a deep golden brown bird. I baste the bird just before I peel it off to make sure it peels off easier. It’s a super simple step - too simple to skip and sacrifice a super tender and perfectly roasted turkey.
I have been fortunate enough to be working with Paderno and have been able to use some of their practical and excellent bakeware, including this stainless steel multi-roaster with removable rack. It’s a heavy duty durable roaster with an aluminum encapsulated base for even heat distribution meaning even roasting as well. It’s large enough to fit a big bird up to 22 lbs. Mine was only 12 lbs and had some great wriggle room in it. The removable rack with folding handles allows for easy drainage while in use as well as transferring the turkey in and out of the pan. What I appreciate the most about this roasting pan is the riveted or offset handles angled to fit most ovens. My first apartment after I got married, and several apartments after, had the tiniest ovens. So I basically said goodbye to almost all of my toasting pans because of the added bulk form the handles. My mom happily acquired my pans during that time. I enjoyed roasting my turkey in it and look forward to many more roasts in this beauty of a pan.
I decided to do a classic combo of flavorings when it came to the herbs because those are the ones I love. You can choose and swap out your favourite ones according to your taste. I love citrus and we are in the middle of citrus season so I thought it was appropriate to use all the wonderful citrus available. I kept it simple with just oranges and lemons, but you could use limes and grapefruit too. The flavours were absolutely delicious and they added a very nice hint of citrus to the gravy which we totally loved. The gravy is basic and simple to make and is totally delicious. No need for adding anything packaged to it. It is simple and the flavours are all from the lovely pan drippings.
I can’t say enough about this turkey recipe, and neither can my family. My mom loved it and was so intrigued as she watched me drape over a sopping cheese cloth over the turkey. It’s simple and flavourful and the most tender. I may switch up the flavouring the next time I make turkey but one thing I won’t change is my dry brine and my cheesecloth method! Why change a good thing - sorry a great thing? Give it a try yourself. I’m pretty sure you will love the result!!
This is a sponsored post for Paderno. All thoughts and views are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Olive & Mango possible.
For the dry brine
- 1 tbsp salt (*amount varies for each according to weight of turkey)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsps dried herbs (poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, parsley, or thyme all work well here)
- Remove the giblets from the turkey and set aside for stock or gravy. Pat turkey dry with paper towels, inside and out, and set on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Mix together the salt, baking powder, and herbs to make the brine.
- Sprinkle the brine all over the inside and outside of the turkey.
- Refrigerate for 24-72 hours, uncovered.
- Cook according to your chosen turkey recipe, skipping any added salt that the recipe calls for.
- For every five pounds of turkey you have, mix together 1 tbsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and two teaspoons dried herbs of your choice (rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme).
For the turkey
- 1 (12-14) lb. turkey, giblets and neck removed, patted dry
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tbsps fresh sage, plus more for stuffing the bird
- 2 tbsps fresh thyme, plus more for stuffing the bird
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, plus more for stuffing the bird
- 3 tbsps fresh parsley
- Zest of 1 lemon plus three tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1½ tbsp of finely grated orange zest, plus 1⁄4 cup of fresh orange juice
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp black pepper
- 1 large piece of double lined cheesecloth
- 1 garlic head, tips sliced off plus 4 cloves minced
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- ½ orange, cut into wedges
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- 3-5 cups low sodium chicken or turkey broth
For the Simple Pan Gravy
- 1 cup white wine (optional - sub with extra broth)
- 4 tbsps salted butter
- 6 tbsps all-purpose flour
- drippings from the turkey
- 2-3 cups low sodium chicken or turkey broth, as needed
- 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- salt and black pepper, to taste
For the turkey
- Once brined, remove the turkey from the fridge 1-2 hours before roasting allowing it to come to room temperature. No need to dust off the salt.
- Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and once melted remove from heat. Finely chop the sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and mince the garlic and add to the butter.Whisk in the lemon and orange zest and juices and salt and pepper, mix well to combine; transfer half the citrus butter to a small bowl and refrigerate to cool for a few minutes until spreadable.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Place the turkey in a large roasting pan (I used Paderno’s stainless steel multi-roaster with removable rack)
- Run your fingers under the breast and thigh skin to loosen it, then spread the chilled butter under the skin and over the breast and thighs.Stuff the turkey cavity with the orange wedges, lemon wedges, onion and garlic and herbs.
- Dampen an 18-by-18-inch double-layer piece of cheesecloth with warm water and squeeze dry.Soak the cheesecloth in the remaining citrus butter and drape it over the breast and legs; pour any remaining butter on top.
- Roast the turkey for about 30 minutes.
- Remove and add stock to the roasting pan and continue to roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°F. Baste the turkey with the drippings 2-3 times throughout cooking and when doing so rotate the roasting pan. (I basted approximately every half hour)
- Remove the turkey from the oven and carefully peel the cheesecloth, transfer the turkey to a baking sheet, tent loosely with foil and let rest 20-30 minutes before slicing.
For the gravy
- To make the gravy, strain the liquid from the roasting pan, skimming off as much fat as possible.Once you have skimmed the fat, add enough broth to equal about 4-5 cups total of drippings/broth.
- Place the roasting pan over two burners and add wine (about ½ cup) to deglaze the pan scraping up all those brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Once deglazed, add the butter and once melted, add the flour whisking to combine.Cook stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden, just a couple of minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high and add the remaining ½ cup of white wine, whisking as you go to let the wine reduce down.Slowly whisk in the reserved broth, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the sage and the thyme and cook, continuing to stir, until the gravy has thickened to your desired thickness, around 8 to 10 minutes.Season to taste with salt and pepper.Serve warm with the turkey.
Adapted from The Kitchn, Serious Eats, Food and Wine, and Half Baked Harvest