I am still working on my Thanksgiving menu. For the appetizer platter, for sure, I would like to serve our family favorites – dried fruits in bacon, or green bean bundles in bacon and something light with shrimp (probably shrimp and tomato skewers). As for the turkey…
If we (my husband and me) decide to cook the whole turkey, I will make it a new way – a frozen turkey will go directly to oven without defrosting, brining and other prep work. I am very excited to try this new for me recipe.
While our turkey decision is still on its way, I am happy to share my old recipe – Brined Turkey with Ginger-Juniper Butter. You can fill the turkey with your favorite stuffing or roast it as is. But remember for a stuffed turkey the cooking time will be 30-60 minutes longer.
Personally, I like to cook stuffing separately and serve it in a bowl next to the turkey platter. However, I like adding fresh thyme and/or rosemary sprigs, halves of oranges or lemons, garlic cloves, or onion halves inside my bird. These aromatics along with ginger-juniper butter add an incredible flavor to the holiday turkey.
(O-oh… the taste of my turkey was much better than the pictures I took).
For ginger-juniper butter :
(The butter can be made in advance and kept in refrigerator)
Using a food processor or mixer, combine all the butter ingredients until evenly distributed.
Defrost the turkey.
Make the brine. In a very large container, basket or a pot, mix all the ingredients except the turkey. Salt and sugar should dissolve.
Put cleaned turkey into the brine. The turkey is more likely to float, so you may need to use some weight. Keep the turkey in the brine for 3-6 hours at room temperature.
Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel.
With your hands rub the turkey inside with the ginger-juniper butter. Slightly pulling the turkey skin, rub (massaging) the butter under the skin as far deep as possible. Be careful not to tear the skin. Rub the outer side of the turkey with the butter.
Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Or you can rub the turkey in advance and keep it covered with foil or plastic food wrap in a refrigerator for a day. Take the bird from a refrigerator 45-60 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
If using, stuff the turkey with onion, orange halves, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, fresh thyme, and/or rosemary.
Optionally, but recommended, thigh the turkey legs with cooking twine or ‘hide’ them as shown in photo.
Arrange the turkey on a roasting pan rack. Cover with foil.
Roast on a lower oven shelf for about an hour.
Discard the foil; check the internal temperature (in the thickest part of a thigh).
Continue cooking for 1 ½ – 2 hours, while pouring the turkey with its juices, three-four times. The internal temperature should be 170-180 F (77-82 С). See the table below.
Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for 20 min before serving.
If using dried herbs for making ginger-juniper butter, prepare the butter few days in advance for the herbs to release their aroma.
WEIGHT COOKING TIME*
8 – 12 lb (4 – 6 kg) 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours
12 – 16 lb (6 – 8 kg) 3 – 4 hours
16 – 20 lb (8 – 10 kg) 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours
20 – 25 lb (10 – 12 kg) 4 ½ – 5 ½ hours
25 – 30 lb (13 – 15 kg) 5 ½ + hours
* for stuffed turkey extend cooking time for 30-60 minutes
Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!