I’ve been preparing the Thanksgiving turkey for several years and over that time, I have developed four essential steps for a perfectly roasted bird: brining, stuffing with aromatics, rubbing with herb compound butter, and roasting to perfection. The herb butter does double duty. Part of it is rubbed under the skin and over the meat of the bird for a major boost in flavor. The rest is melted and brushed over the skin to ensure that gorgeous golden brown exterior.
If your turkey is frozen, allow 2 to 3 days for it to fully defrost in the refrigerator. Remove innards. Prepare brine at least 1 day ahead of roasting turkey so it can soak in the brine overnight. Once it is brined, place turkey breast side up in a roasting pan and prepare ingredients.
Prepare aromatics. Stuff turkey with apple, onion, cinnamon stick, rosemary, sage and thyme.
In small bowl, combine butter, fresh herbs and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir together with spoon until well blended. Starting around the neck, run your hand between the skin and meat of turkey, gently separating them. Do the same from the other side of the bird, loosening the skin around thighs and legs. Now use about two thirds of the compound butter to rub over the meat, under skin of turkey. It is okay if the butter is clumped – it will melt as it cooks. Tuck wings under bird. Melt remaining butter in microwave and brush in an even layer over skin of bird, breast side up in roasting pan.
Transfer pan to oven and cook at 425°F for 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the breast registers 180°F when inserted into inner thigh and 170°F when inserted into breast. Monitor browning of skin and once it has reached the desired shade of golden brown, after about 60-90 minutes, tent loosely with foil through the remainder of the cooking time. A 14-16 pound bird will take approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Once turkey is done and you have removed it from oven, loosely cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving. Ready to get started?
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