Minnesota is number one in the nation for turkey farming. Turkeys that are getting sent to Washington D.C. for the National Thanksgiving Turkey is coming from Alexandria, MN! This is the 71st year of following this tradition. The first step is important and needs to be started several days in advance. You can buy a fresh turkey and alleviate some of the stress, but odds are you are going to buy a frozen turkey. If you’re using a frozen turkey, make sure to give the meat plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator.
Frozen turkeys take some time to defrost, but have the benefit of keeping longer. Turkeys can be frozen for up to 12 months. If you buy a frozen turkey, allow at least one day in the fridge for every 4-5 pounds. Never thaw it at room temperature, because the outside will warm to an unsafe, bacteria-friendly temperature before the inside is thawed. A 14-16 pound turkey will take 3-4 days to completely thaw. Plan on having it completely thawed the day before you’ll cook it to guarantee no last-minute frozen turkey panic. Don’t wash the turkey. Washing the turkey can contaminate your kitchen as water and turkey germs spray. Cooking the turkey to the right temperature will kill any bacteria that may be lingering in your turkey. You can’t wash it away, so don’t even try.
- Line your roasting pan with aluminum foil for quick and easy cleanup.
- Cook the turkey at higher heat for the first hour. This seals in the juices and crisps the skin.
- If the skin is getting too dark while the turkey finishes cooking, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
- Give the meat time to rest after you pull it out of the oven (before slicing). This will keep the meat nice and juicy.
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- 1 turkey (14 lbs turkey)
- 1 ½ sticks (170 gr) softened unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic (about 4-5 cloves)
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp ground dried rosemary
- 1 tsp rubbed dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 apples, cored and roughly chopped, optional
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped, optional
- A bunch of fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, marjoram
- 750 ml champagne
- 2 cups chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pull the neck and giblets out of the cavity. Use a few paper towels to dry off the skin of the bird and inside the cavity. Carefully run your hand under the breast skin to create a pocket. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 stick of butter, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and lemon juice. Stir until well combined. Smear the butter evenly all over the turkey and under the breast skin. If the skin is wet, butter won’t stick. So make sure to dry the skin with paper towel well. Place the turkey breast side up on a V rack in a large roasting pan. Fill the turkey with carrots, apples and fresh herbs. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Using a marinade injector, slowly inject each thigh and breast halves with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Pour champagne and chicken stock over the turkey and into the cavity.
Roast the turkey until it’s golden brown, about 3.5 hours for 14 lbs turkey, basting it every hour using a turkey baster. (Check on turkey after 2 hours. If skin isn’t browning fast enough, increase oven temperature by 50°F. If the skin is browning too much, cover with a foil. The turkey is cooked, when the deepest part of breast and legs registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the turkey from oven, cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.
The cooking time in this recipe is for up to a 14 lbs turkey. Add 15 minutes of cook time at 350 degrees F for each additional pound.