This is my second time to roast a turkey. Last year I shared my very first turkey attempt. I was SO nervous. I started having dreams about ruining the turkey for days before our Friendsgiving last year. This year, I was less nervous. I am happy to report I only had one dream about messing up the turkey. So, that's progress I guess (in a crazy person kind of way).My first step was to track down our bird. I don't eat a lot of meat. But, for Friendsgiving I make exceptions. :) I do, however, make an effort to buy organic and ethically raised meats when I do choose to cook with them. Most of the farms in our area work like this: You sign up (and pay a deposit) for a turkey. The turkeys are delivered a day or two before Thanksgiving and you pick them up from the store where you signed up. Since we host Friendsgiving weeks before the real turkey day, this posed a problem for me. That's the thing about no preservatives—it limits the shelf-life—so you have to get it within short period before you plan to cook it. I called around and (thankfully) Home Grown Foods found a way to get me a turkey early. They really went out of their way to help me get a turkey from a far a few hours away, and I am extremely thankful. I nearly thought we'd have to serve something other than turkey at Friendsgiving this year. And, that would be a bummer, because turkey is the show-stopper!I picked up my turkey the day before our event. It was ready for brining, since it was fresh. If you use a frozen turkey this year allow it to thaw (in the refrigerator) before brining.
Blue Moon Brine: 7 1/2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock, 2 bottles Blue Moon beer, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup kosher salt, 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns and enough water to submerge the turkey.
In a big pot stir together the first four ingredients over medium heat until the sugar and salt has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the peppercorns. Prepare your thawed turkey for brining by first removing the giblets (my least favorite part). Place the turkey in a brining bag. Fill with the cooled brining liquid and enough water to submerge the turkey. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight. Finding the right container to hold the brining turkey can be tricky. A clean bucket works well, or you can use the turkey roasting pan and fill the bag only halfway. Just flip the turkey halfway through the brining time if you go this route.In the morning discard the brining liquid. Rinse off the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Fill the inside of the turkey with one onion (cut into fourths), the rinds of three or four oranges, two springs of rosemary, two sprigs of thyme and one sprig of sage. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the top of the turkey and rub it all over the skin. Toward the back of the turkey, just above the opening where you added the aromatics, you can usually get under the skin a little. Be sure to rub some oil in there as well. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper all over the bird. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together, helping the bird keep it's shape.
Tuck a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bird. Bake at 500°F for 30 minutes. High temperatures can more easily create smoke/steam in your kitchen so don't be afraid to open a few windows. :) After the first 30 minutes reduce the temperature to 350°F, remove the foil and continue to roast until the turkey reaches around 155°F. You can use an instant read thermometer to check this. Just stick the thermometer into the breast, avoiding the bones of the bird. Some sources suggest your temperature needs to reach 165°-170°F before removing the turkey from the oven. But, after you remove it you need to rest the bird in a tent of aluminum foil for 30 minutes before serving time. This process will raise the temperature, even after it's out of the oven. So, keep that in mind. Our turkey was about 14lbs. so it took about two hours to finish cooking. The time it will take to roast can be hard to predict so I highly recommend an instant read thermometer.
During the last 30 minutes of bake time I added orange slices (with the rinds removed, because those were already inside the bird) with whole cloves held on by toothpicks. My thought behind this was mostly aesthetic, I kind of wanted it to look similar to a roasted ham (often garnished with pineapple slices and cherries). Before serving remove the toothpicks and the aromatics from inside. Place your turkey on a large serving platter and decorate with cut oranges and fresh herbs.Thanks for letting me share my oranges and herbs turkey! Do you have a favorite turkey recipe you'll be using this year? xo. Emma
Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy