Juicy Citrus-Sage Roasted Turkey
I've been making holiday turkeys for over ten years now, and for the first time my turkey came out 100% juicy and flavorful all the way through! I actually enjoyed tasting the meat itself - no gravy needed! It was a crowning achievement no doubt. I felt like there should have been Olympic pedestals in my kitchen with the gold going to me. I know, I'm so humble.
It started with properly prepping the turkey and soaking it in my sweet and savory turkey brine recipe (works with a 15-20 lb turkey). Before you brine, the bird should be thoroughly defrosted, the insides removed and the neck removed. *Boil the neck with herbs, salt, and pepper to make turkey broth! You can use that to baste the turkey.
For the Turkey Brine You Need:
- gallon of water to boil
- gallon of ice water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 sliced orange
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 3 cups apple cider
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp crushed black peppercorn
- 1/2 c salt
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
To Prep the Turkey for the Oven You Need:
- one celery stalk
- one to two sticks of butter
- salt and pepper
- ground sage
- one bunch fresh sage
- one bunch fresh parsley
- one to two oranges
INSTRUCTIONS + TIPS
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're pressed for time, you can roast it a 425 for the first hour or so then turn it down to 325 to reduce your cooking time, but cooking it at 325 the whole time really makes a huge difference on how juicy the turkey comes out.
- Rinse the brine off the turkey and make sure it's 100% thawed on the inside. If you have any lingering icy spots, rinse with cool water until thawed.
- Let it set at room temp for 30 minutes to help it cook more evenly.
- Stuff the cavity with one to two oranges cut into wedges, a few ribs of celery (I like to use the leafy parts from the middle), a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, and the fresh herbs.
- Bring the butter to room temp or microwave it just long enough to soften it. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat and spread half of the butter on the inside and the rest on the outside. How much butter you use really depends on how big your bird is. Just make sure it's evenly and generously coated all over.
- Use your finger to work the butter around and make sure there aren't any large clumps. Those can cause dark uneven spots on the skin.
- Pull the skin firmly back into place and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and ground sage.
- Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan with either a bottom rack or celery ribs underneath the turkey in the bottom of the pan. Place it breast-side up and tuck the wing tisp under near the top of the turkey (see the photo above).
- Fill the bottom of the pan about an inch or two deep with broth so you can baste at least every hour.
- Cover loosely with foil. Use a few large pieces together to create a sort of domed tent. Or you could use a lidded roasting pan.
- Roasting times vary by size. You can refer to this turkey roasting chart, though mine took about 6 hours for a 15 lb turkey. Every turkey is different, and every oven is different, so it's best to use a thermometer or check the meat itself. It's done when it has reached 180° F in thigh and 165° F in the breast, or the juices run clear when you cut into the thickest part of the thigh.
- It's also a good idea to take a look at it near the end to check on the skin. If it looks like it might need a little push to brown properly, spray it with cooking oil or baste with oil or melted butter and leave uncovered for the last half hour or so.
- Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
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