I know, I know – my picture isn’t a “picture perfect” turkey. We’ve all seen them though – the photo of the turkey, breast up, looking all beautiful and golden (and dry). Today, I’m showing you why “ugly” turkey is better. I’m taking the fuss out of turkey by cooking it breast down. Sure, it’s not a a “presentation bird” but cooking the turkey breast side down, all of the delicious juices run into the breast, making it way more moist and flavorful, while the dark meat stays succulent. Besides, who actually carves the turkey tableside any more?!?
Another trick to making this bird as flavorful as possible is The Butter, which is herbs and spices, mixed together with butter, formed into a log, frozen and sliced into medallions and placed between the turkey skin and meat so the turkey can baste itself deep down.
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 cloves minced garlic
A few sprigs of sage, minced
A few small sprigs of parsley, minced
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, minced
A few rosemary leaves, minced
Pinch of dried oregano
A few basil leaves, chopped
A few dashes of seasoning salt
Pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Mix all ingredients together until well blended, place butter on a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, form into a log, wrap tightly then place the log in the freezer. Meanwhile, turn your attention to the turkey….
One turkey (whichever size you choose), rinsed
One butter log, cut into medallions
2 bay leaves
few sprigs of sage
few sprigs of thyme
1-2 strips of lemon zest
2 ounces white wine
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large roasting pan, place turkey breast side up. Carefully slide butter medallions between the skin and meat of the turkey breast. Turn turkey over and carefully slide the remainder of butter medallions between meat and skin on the back of the turkey.
Rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper. In the bottom of the roasting pan, place bay leaves, thyme, sage, lemon zest and wine. Cover turkey with lid or aluminum foil.
Place in preheated oven. After 1/2 hour, baste turkey with the juices in the bottom of the pan. Baste every 15-20 minutes thereafter. Cooking time will be around 12-15 minutes per pound. Using a meat thermometer, test for doneness. I like to pull my turkey out when the breast meat reaches around 165 degrees. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can generally guess when a turkey is done – when pierced with a sharp knife in the breast, the juices that run out are clear. Also, the skin and meat start to pull away from the bone.
Once done, let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. This allows all those delicious juices to redistribute and even out.
Carve and enjoy!