Turkey Trifecta: Sage, thyme, and butter

I have people asking me all the time if they should brine or deep-fry their turkey. I love anything fried myself but the answer is, do what you are most comfortable with. I like to roast mine because there is less equipment and preparation time needed. Roasted turkey can be juicy inside and crispy on the outside if done right (Go to my previous post on how to get that perfect turkey).


1 12-15lb whole turkey
1/2 cup butter, softened and divided
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh sage leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 lemon, halved
2 celery ribs, quartered
1 large onion, quartered

Thaw the turkey before if frozen.

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of softened butter, paprika, salt, pepper, minced sage leaf and thyme sprigs, and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Rinse the inside and outside of with cold water. Remove the giblets and neck (save for later). Then pat dry with paper towel both inside and outside of the turkey. Loosen the turkey skin from the breast by inserting your hand and using the fingers (This creates a pocket for you to insert herbs and butter. Be careful not to tear the skin as that will ruin the presentation).

Rub butter and herb mixture on the outside and in the cavity wall of the turkey. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper. Remember to add some of the mixture in the pockets between the skin and breast. Reserve ¼ of the butter mixture for later use. Insert lemon halves, celery, onion, and garlic inside the cavity. Place turkey breast on a lightly greased wire rack, breast side up, in an aluminum foil lined shallow roasting pan.

Bake at 325F for roughly 3 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thigh reads 180°F. After the first 30 minutes of baking, spread remaining ¼ cup of butter evenly on the turkey. Then proceed to baste the turkey every 30 minutes with pan drippings. At the 2hr of baking, use the remainder of the butter and herb mixture and spread evenly. (Prevent overcooking by checking for doneness after 2 hours). Remove turkey from roasting pan, and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. Garnish with fresh herbs and vegetables around the turkey.

The perfect holiday turkey

the perfect turkey

We need to talk entrees because Thanksgiving is next week. Turkey is a common entrée of choice. The final product should be crispy on the outside, tender and juicy inside. Over cooking turkey will leave you with 15 lbs of dry flavorless cardboard. Here are a few tricks to give you that perfect turkey:

1. Temper your turkey: Don’t make the mistake of putting your turkey directly into the oven after taking out of the refrigerator. The drastic difference in temperature doesn’t allow the turkey to cook evenly. Keep the turkey wrapped in plastic wrap, out of the sunlight, and allow it to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven.

2. Stuffing need not apply: The stuffing just makes you cook the turkey for longer than necessary, drying the outside while the inside doesn’t get cooked. You could end up giving your guests food poisoning because stuffing is spongy breeding bed. Don’t be fooled by the picture because they put the stuffing in at the end.

3. Put it on a rack: Investing in a roasting pan with a rack is well worth the money spent. You’ll get delicious roasts. This gives you a crispy turkey all around and allows for the turkey to cook evenly.

4. Watch it like a hawk: Like a hawk keeping an eye on its prey, you too should be vigilant and baste your turkey every 30 mins.

5. Give it a rest: Don’t give up! You’re probably tired by the time the turkey is done. Well you weren’t cooking in the oven at 350 for hours, so let the turkey rest before carving. This will keep the juices in the meat and not pour out at the first cut.

The common theme in cooking the perfect turkey is even cooking and “time, love, and tenderness.” You’ll have the perfect turkey every time. Let me know how your turkey turns out.