As I mention previously, I somehow ended up with lots of extra holiday-type meat in my freezer, and I need to make some room in there, so it’s time to cook (which I guess is why I ended up with the food in the first place, huh?). The next thing I want to make (mainly, because it takes up the most room) is a turkey. Yes, a whole turkey, just like at Thanksgiving. While I was pretty sure about how to prep the bird, I can never remember the cooking time or temperature. I have a couple of really great Thanksgiving and American Cuisine cookbooks, but they are currently in boxes awaiting our up coming kitchen renovation, so I headed off to my current go to for recipe information, Pinterest. I found exactly what I was looking for with little to no trouble, in the form of a Martha Stewart Recipe:
First, I made sure the turkey was fully defrosted. (That took a couple of days, hanging out in the fridge.) Then I gathered the rest of the ingredients: the turkey (mine was just shy of 14lbs.), 1 stalk of celery, 2 dried bay leaves (I skipped these – I’m not a big fan and I was out of them), 2 medium carrots (I used a bunch of baby carrots instead), 2 medium onions, 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter (I used 8, plus 2 more for the basting liquid), 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (I used fresh herbs instead – rosemary, thyme, and sage), salt & pepper. I also used 1 cup of orange juice to make the basting liquid, which wasn’t in the recipe at all. (See, I’m really bad at following the directions accurately, that’s why I titled this post “Not Quite Martha’s Turkey.”)
Now that I had everything together, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. (Why can I never remember that?) Next, I was time to clean the turkey. I took it out of the wrapper, removed the neck and package of internal components (bleck), and rinsed it inside and out with cold water. Now Martha said to save the neck to put in the bottom of the roasting pan, but I opted to not touch that sucker again and tossed it. I dried it off with paper towels (I only did the exterior, I’m a firm believer in adding moisture to the meat of a turkey).
When it was dry, I placed it on a raised tray in a giant roasting pan (I really love my Calphalon!) Next I cut up the veggies. I chopped the celery into appetizer size chunks and quartered the onions. I didn’t have to do anything to the carrots, because I used peeled baby ones. Then I stuck the celery, half the carrots, and one of the quartered onions inside the bird. (You know the place where mom and grandma used to cook the stuffing, but now we know better than to do that, right?) Martha also said to put the bay leaves inside the bird, but I left them out. Once all the stuff is inside, you can either tie the legs together or stick them under the plastic thing thats already attached to the turkey.
OK, so this is where I went really far off script… Martha said to rub the bird with butter and sprinkle the skin with the poultry seasoning. I lifted the skin up and separated it from the meat on the breast and the tops of the legs. You can reach the legs from the breast. It’s pretty easy to do, just stick you hand in and slide it around a bit. Once there’s a gap that you can fit stuff in, it’s time to add the butter and herbs. I cut my stick of butter into tablespoon size chunks and slid 4 of them under the skin. (One on each side of the breast and one on each leg.) Then I added a couple of sprigs of thyme, a few pieces of rosemary, and a few sage leaves to each pat of butter. Next, I did like Martha said and rubbed the skin of the turkey with 3 of the remaining pieces of butter (I squeezed the 4th one inside with the carrots and stuff) and added some additional fresh herbs, salt & pepper.
Now I went back to following directions, well sort of … I put the remaining carrots and onions in the bottom of the pan, but left out the turkey neck.
Now It was time to stick the bird in the oven. I followed the directions and left it alone for the first hour, and boy was that difficult. However, during that hour, I made my basting liquid. Martha said to use the juices from the pan, but I didn’t think there would be enough, so I made something to help it along. I took 1 cup of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of butter and melted the butter into the orange juice. I kept the pot on low on the stove throughout the cooking process. After the first hour, I basted the bird every 15 minutes. I also covered it with foil about half way through the cooking process to keep the skin from getting too crispy. My bird had a pop up timer, but it doesn’t hurt to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 170 degrees when you stick it into the meatiest part of the breast, just stay away from the bone to get a good reading.
My bird cooked for almost 3 1/2 hours and boy did it look really yummy when it was done!