From Denny: Looking for an interesting recipe twist to the holiday dinner? Want a modern version of a classic turkey recipe? Whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas good cooks everywhere like to try a new recipe for the holidays every now and then.
Now matter how much we love tradition there are those times when a new recipe is the hit of the season and the family says, "This one is a winner; make it for next year too!" And that's how many food traditions start.
I'm one of those cooks that likes to compare a pack of recipes against each other to determine which I like best. Sometimes, I'm just searching for a good tweak on what I'm already making for the feast. Other years I'm just so bored making the same ol' thing I have to have a change somewhere in the menu.
This post contains something for everyone! There are 8 different varieties of roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners to make you a hit for the season. There is quite a variety from the brined to basting with citrus-mustard, honey-spice to more ethnic and regionally flavored rubs like Moroccan, Southwestern and Spicy. Not to be left out is the traditional turkey rub for the keepers of holiday tradition. Every few years I go back to basics too after trying out the more exotic versions of roasted turkey.
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Butterball also supplies plenty of information for the less experienced cook to roast a turkey to perfection. It's a wonderful site for all kinds of useful information from decorating the holiday table to food safety. If you are unsure as to how many minutes per pound to roast Butterball has a help line to call: 1-800-288-8372 (1-800-BUTTERBALL). They even provide fraud alerts for phony coupons at holiday season.
Here's the lineup of recipes in this post:
* Citrus Mustard Basted Turkey
* Moroccan Rub Turkey
* Vanilla Brined Thanksgiving Turkey
* Roast Turkey With Mediterranean Rub
* Honey and Spice Glazed Turkey
* Roast Turkey With Spicy Rub
* Roast Turkey Southwestern with Dressing
* Turkey with 7-Grain Bread and Butternut Squash Stuffing
* Traditional Turkey Rub
Here are a few holiday tips to help preparation for an enjoyable time:
* Finalize your menu. Do you want friends and family to bring a side dish, ice, dessert, wine or beer?
* A big help is to break down the tasks into a daily and hourly to-do list the last two to three days before the holiday so you don't feel pressured as the holiday counts down.
* Purchase your ingredients up to four days ahead of time. You can blanch/parboil fresh green beans this far ahead of time, cool off quickly in ice and then package in Ziploc bags and keep in the fridge until the big day to put in the recipe of your choice. Sometimes, a simple saute with a few yummy spices and some clarified browned butter is perfection to complement the menu.
* When purchasing the turkey, plan on one pound per person. Sounds like too much? Not really as you have to account for the bones and fat that will be trimmed off.
* Get your turkey roasting equipment ready. I usually do this a week ahead, even before purchasing the ingredients. Make sure you have the right sized roasting pan, a meat thermometer, aluminum foil, a large platter, and enough containers for leftovers. Make sure to sharpen your carving knives too!
* We prefer a fresh turkey at our house but you might be in an area of the country that can only get frozen. Be sure to take the turkey out of the freezer anywhere from 3 to 7 days before you wish to roast it. The defrosting time will increase with the larger size of the bird. Be sure to keep the turkey in the fridge in its original wrapping, placing in a shallow tray in the fridge's bottom shelf. It's going to be quite heavy.
In some years when I didn't do this in quite enough time I would hurry up the defrosting by soaking breast side down and submerged in cold water in the sink for two to four hours (huge bird of over 14 pounds) to get the process started, allowing about 30 minutes per pound of turkey. You have to change that cold water every 30 minutes. Then I would return it to the fridge to finish defrosting.
The dumbest thing you can do is leave the defrosting turkey in the sink until the bird is no longer cold as it is multiplying bacteria at a rapid rate - so stick to the fridge method as it's much safer.
* So how much time do you allow to defrost the turkey? Expect one day for every four pounds of turkey. Using the fridge method expect for a 24 - 30 pound turkey to take 6 to 7 days to thaw. It's actually easier to defrost and roast two smaller turkeys than a big one.
If you use the cold water in the sink method to defrost that same 24 - 30 pound turkey then it will take about 12 to 15 hours in cold water. A turkey of 8 - 12 pounds will thaw in the fridge in about three days or 4 - 6 hours submerged in cold water. This is the average size most people roast.
* After thawing, what comes next? Yes, reach inside that arctic cold interior and pull out the package of giblets. You can boil the insides in water for later broth - and your cat will love the cut up giblets as a treat!
Make sure to rinse thoroughly the inside cavity with cold water. When you place the turkey in the roasting pan be sure to make room for the air to circulate by resting the bird on a bed of raw, chopped vegetables like carrots and celery. If not then use a roasting rack.
* To avoid dangerous salmonella contaminating the kitchen counters, the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, towels, sponges, your hands and other dishes be sure to wipe down with bleach or sanitizer everything the raw turkey might have touched. Then wash your hands too. If anything got on your shirt or apron, change out those clothes too.
* Most people cook their turkeys without stuffing inside the cavity as it is the safest way to avoid food poisoning. The average unstuffed turkey takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to roast in an open pan at 325 degrees F. If you really want to roast a stuffed turkey then add another 15 to 30 minutes to your roasting time.
* At our house we prefer our stuffing to be baked separately in a shallow casserole pan so you get that awesome browned crust that holds the gravy oh, so well in all its crevices. :) It's also easier on the family cook as it can be baked along side the turkey as it is finishing its roasting. I often assemble the turkey stuffing ingredients the night before, put it in the fridge and then add the wet ingredients when ready to bake. Much less time consuming when you break it up into steps.
* If you do want to stuff the turkey for roasting then make the stuffing and insert it into the turkey just before placing the turkey in to roast. Otherwise, a lot of bacteria can build up. Be sure not to overstuff the turkey or it may not cook thoroughly. Not enough stuffing and it may end up overcooked. See? A separate casserole is a lot less hassle and turned out far more popular at our house.
* Whip out your trusty meat thermometer to make sure your turkey is properly cooked. It should reach 185 degrees F. in the thigh, 170 degrees F. in the breast and 165 degrees F. in the stuffing if you placed it in the cavity. Make sure after roasting to allow the turkey "to rest" for about 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the juices to settle down and distribute throughout the meat, making it more moist when sliced.
* Carving the turkey: First pop out the thighs, take off the wings and separate the legs from the thighs. When you carve the breast first cut a horizontal cut at the base of the breast in near the bone. Then cut from above and detach the breast. Slicing the breast on the cutting board is far easier and it's easier to control for thinner slices. Make sure to cut across the grain of the meat. Repeat for the other side of the turkey.
* Make sure too not to allow the carved turkey to sit out at room temperature longer than for 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze leftover turkey immediately. It will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Usually at our house we carve the turkey in the kitchen and serve the best looking slices on the platter at table. It also makes it easier to bag up the leftovers immediately and enjoy our dinner free of worry.
Now on with the great selection of recipes for your holidays!
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Citrus Mustard Basted Turkey
Butter based mixture of Dijon mustard, orange and lemon zest create a new flavor for your Thanksgiving Turkey.
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook time: Bake/Roast for 3+ hours
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 (14 to 16 pounds) Butterball® Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey, thawed if frozen
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine butter, herbs, zest, mustard, salt and pepper in work bowl of blender or food processor; cover. Process until well blended.
- Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey. Reserve giblets for stuffing recipe. Drain juices from turkey and dry turkey with paper towels. Turn wings back to hold neck skin against back of turkey.
- Remove butter mixture from blender. Carefully work fingers under skin on breast of turkey. Place half the butter mixture under breast area. Rub remaining butter mixture over breast and legs of turkey.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a flat rack in a shallow baking pan. Roast turkey approximately 1-1/2 hours. Then, cover breast and top of drumsticks loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning.
- Roast turkey another 1-1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 180°F; when inserted into the deepest part of the thigh. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
Moroccan Rub Turkey
From: Spice Islands
Serves: about 8
Recipe is from Spice Islands, which says “the recipe is for a turkey breast or a whole chicken. For a large, whole turkey, we recommend doubling the dry seasonings.”
2 tsps. garlic powder
2 tsps. black pepper, medium grind
11/2 tsps. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground Saigon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. turmeric
Generous amount of sea salt
1 (5- to 6-lb.) turkey breast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1. Combine garlic, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and a generous grinding of sea salt in a small bowl. Mix well and reserve 1 teaspoon of seasoning.
2. Rub remaining seasoning over turkey breast. Roast according to manufacturer’s directions.
3. Combine reserved seasoning with honey and butter; mix well. Brush over turkey last 30 minutes of baking time.
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Vanilla Brined Thanksgiving Turkey
From: Spice Islands
Serves: 16 to 18
1 (16- to 20-lb.) whole turkey, giblets removed, cleaned and patted dry
3/4 cup kosher salt
2⁄3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Spice Islands Old Hickory Smoked Salt
2 tbls. ground white pepper
1 tbl. ground cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsps. mustard seed
1/2 gallon vegetable stock
1⁄3 cup vanilla extract
1/2 gallon heavily iced water
Vanilla Bourbon Butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tbls. vanilla extract
2 tbls. sweet bourbon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 green apple, halved
1 yellow onion, halved
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place the first 8 ingredients of the brine in a large pot and simmer until the spices dissolve. Allow to cool completely. Pour the cooled stock mixture into a large container (bucket) and stir in vanilla and iced water. Completely submerge the turkey into the liquid, breast side down, and brine for 10 to 16 hours, refrigerated.
3. While the turkey is in the brine, make the Vanilla Bourbon Butter. Place the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside.
4. When ready, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics and rub the skin, both under and over, with the Vanilla Bourbon Butter. Season the turkey with salt and pepper.
5. Tie the legs together tightly, tuck the wings under the back, and transfer the bird to a roasting pan. Place the turkey into the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the skin to brown. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast the turkey for 21/2 to 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes. Thirty minutes before the turkey is ready to come out of the oven, remove foil from the breast and continue to roast until an instant read thermometer reads 161 degrees. Remove turkey from the oven, loosely covered with foil and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
1 (14- to 16-lb.) turkey, thawed if frozen
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup ground dry lemon peel
4 tsps. sugar, granulated
4 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbls. dry oregano leaves
2 tsps. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Turn wings back to hold neck skin against back of turkey. Place turkey breast side up on flat rack in shallow roasting pan.
2. Roast turkey approximately 11/2 hours. Then, cover breast loosely with aluminum foil to prevent overcooking.
3. While turkey is cooking, combine parsley, lemon peel, sugar, salt, rosemary, oregano and peppers to make rub. Set aside.
4. Roast turkey another 11/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees when inserted into the deepest part of the thigh muscle. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
5. Sprinkle rub on sliced turkey or rub over entire turkey when it is removed from the oven.
Note: Recommend using rub within 24 hours for best results.
Honey and Spice Glazed Turkey
A whole roast turkey brushed with a sweet and spicy glaze
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: Bake/Roast 3+ hours
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon water
- (14 to 16 pound) Butterball® Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey, thawed if frozen
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix chili powder, garlic powder, allspice, cumin, salt, red pepper, honey and water in small bowl until well blended; set aside.
- Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; discard or refrigerate for another use. Drain juices from turkey; dry turkey with paper towels. Turn wings back to hold neck skin against back of turkey.
- Place turkey, breast up, on flat roasting rack in roasting pan about 3 inches deep. Brush turkey with oil. Roast turkey 3 to 3-1/2 hours, covering breast and top of drumsticks loosely with foil after 2 hours to prevent overcooking of breast.
- Uncover turkey breast and brush turkey with honey-spice mixture during the last 45 minutes of baking. Return foil to top of turkey and continue roasting until meat thermometer inserted deep in thigh reaches 180°F. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
Roast Turkey With Spicy Rub
3 tbls. firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tbls. kosher salt or sea salt
3 tbls. paprika
2 tbls. chili powder
2 tsps. black pepper
2 tsps. roasted cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsps. garlic powder
2 tsps. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (12- to 14-lb.) turkey, thawed if frozen
6 tbls. canola oil, divided
1. Combine all ingredients except turkey and oil. Blend well. (May be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance. Store mixture in an airtight container at room temperature.)
2. Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; refrigerate for another use or discard. Drain juices from turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Turn wings back to hold neck skin in place. Return legs to the tucked position, if untucked. Place turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in shallow roasting pan.
3. Brush outside of the turkey with half of oil; rub outside and inside cavity with spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
5. Brush spiced turkey with remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Bake approximately 3 hours (follow cooking times according to package directions; times vary by size of turkey), or until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees when inserted in thickest part of thigh. Remove turkey from oven.
6. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
Tip: For a spicier rub, increase crushed red pepper to 1 tablespoon and add 1 or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper.
Roast Turkey Southwestern with Dressing
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 3 to 4-1/2 hours
Serving Size: 4 ounces of turkey plus 1/4 cup dressing
Yields: 16 servings
Yields: 16 servings
- 6 ounces chorizo OR other hot sausage
- 1 package (1 pound) cornbread stuffing mix
- 1 can (17 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies
- 2 teaspoons Spice Islands Sage
- 1 teaspoon thyme, leaf
- 1 (11 to 14 pounds) whole turkey
- 3 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Sage
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Poultry Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon thyme, leaf
DirectionsPreheat oven to 325º F.
Dice or crumble chorizo. Stir and cook chorizo in large skillet until browned. Drain and set aside.
Prepare stuffing mix with butter and hot water as package directs. Add corn, chilies, chorizo, sage and thyme. Mix thoroughly.
Rub turkey inside and out with oil, then with the sage, poultry seasoning, Beau Monde seasoning, and thyme.
Spoon stuffing loosely into turkey cavities, using skewers to close. (Place any remaining stuffing in a covered baking dish and bake with the turkey for the last 45 minutes of roasting.) Roast turkey, uncovered, in roasting pan. Baste with pan juices every 45 minutes. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast meat or in center of thigh registers 180°F degrees. An 11-pound turkey will take 3 to 4 hours, and a 14-pound turkey will take 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours.
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Traditional Turkey Rub
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yields: Enough for 1 turkey
- 2 teaspoons Spice Islands Crushed Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon thyme, leaf
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Onion Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Garlic Powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- As needed Olive oil, pure
- Freshly ground Spice Islands Pepper, Black Grinder
- Freshly ground Spice Islands Sea Salt Restaurant Size Grinder
- 1 Turkey
Directions:Combine rosemary, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and cinnamon in a small bowl. Generously add fresh ground salt and peper. Lightly coat turkey with oil, if desired.
Rub all surfaces of the turkey with seasoning. Roast according to manufacturer's directions.
Turkey with 7-Grain Bread and Butternut Squash Stuffing
Makes: 16 servings (6 ozs. turkey and 1/2 cup stuffing each)
10 7-grain bread slices (15 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
1⁄3 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups moderately packed chopped fresh kale
1 medium butternut squash (about 11/2 lbs., peeled, seeded and cubed
2 tbls. finely chopped fresh sage, or 2 tsps. rubbed dried
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup smoke-flavored almonds (from 6-oz. can), chopped
1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth
1 (16-lb.) turkey, thawed if frozen
Fresh sage leaves, optional
Nonstick cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread cubes onto bottom of large shallow baking pan. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and dried, stirring occasionally.
2. Melt margarine in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add kale and squash; stir to combine. Cover; cook 6 minutes, or until kale wilts, stirring occasionally. Stir in chopped sage, salt and pepper.
3. Place browned bread cubes in large bowl. Add vegetable mixture, almonds and broth; toss to combine.
4. Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities of turkey; refrigerate for another use or discard. Drain juices from turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Fill neck cavity with part of the stuffing. Turn wings back to hold neck skin against back of turkey. Fill body cavity completely with stuffing.
5. If desired, loosen skin from breast by carefully working fingers under skin over breast. Place several whole sage leaves on breast under skin. Secure edge of skin with toothpicks. Place turkey, breast up, on flat roasting rack in shallow roasting pan. Spray turkey with cooking spray.
6. Bake 4 to 41/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees when inserted in center of stuffing and reaches 180 degrees when inserted in deepest part of thigh, covering breast and tops of drumsticks with aluminum foil after 21/2 hours to prevent overcooking of breast. Let stand 15 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.
Note: Place any extra stuffing in casserole dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake, covered, at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees when placed in center of stuffing.
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