Everyone has a turkey story and I’ll share one that makes me blush! A long, long time ago I invited my in-laws to Thanksgiving dinner. I had a very busy schedule at Fisher-Price Toys in East Aurora, NY and the holidays were hectic as you can imagine. Fisher-Price had a wonderful tradition of giving employees a turkey for the holidays. I froze this huge turkey for our big Thanksgiving feast. With all of the preparations, though, I neglected to take the turkey out of the freezer to defrost in time. So, Thanksgiving morning, with local grocery stores closed, I had to deal with this partially frozen turkey. Necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to pop it in the microwave on “cook” and then brown it in the regular oven.
Don’t try this at home! My turkey looked beautiful and smelled OK, but when we carved it, it was shoe leather on the inside and very rare just under the nicely browned skin. We had to toss the turkey and go out for dinner. Of course, this sad affair has lived on in the story telling tradition of my husband’s family and it was a bit hard to live it down. Fortunately, twenty years have passed along with at least 20 turkey dinners and I can now claim to make a perfect turkey at Thanksgiving.
There are many ways to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey, from brining to deep frying, and perhaps you have tried them all. Our favorite at the farm is a slow roasted turkey seasoned with Herbs de Provence for a classic that is easy to prepare and a favorite for everyone’s palate. We use our own organic blend of Herbs de Provence with Marjoram, Oregano, Lavender and Thyme. The ingredient of lavender cannot be found in many Herbs de Provence blends on the market but it is wonderful, giving a slight floral twist to the fragrance and taste. Herbs de Provence is a lovely seasoning for game fowl, like pheasant, too.
One of our favorite recipes is Williams-Sonoma’s take on this classic, presented below and tested in our kitchen for a decade, at least. You won’t be disappointed and remember, a Turkey and a Microwave oven are not the best companions.
Herbes de Provence Roast Turkey
1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey, about 16 lb.
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 or 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 to 3 Tbs. herbes de Provence
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 to 6 Tbs. (1/2 to 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Do not leave the turkey at room temperature longer than 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425°F.
Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and reserve for making gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the onion, celery, parsley and 1 Tbs. of the herbes de Provence in the body cavity, and season with salt and pepper. If desired, truss the turkey with kitchen twine. Brush the turkey with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with the remaining herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper.
Place the turkey, breast side down, on a buttered roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes, basting with some of the remaining butter after 15 minutes. Using 2 pairs of tongs or heat-resistant kitchen gloves or mitts, turn the turkey breast side up and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue roasting, basting with the remaining butter and pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F, and into the thigh, 175°F. Total roasting time should be 3 to 3 3/4 hours.
Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Serves 12.
Note: Herbs de Provence and Herbes de Provence both correct spellings . They can also include other herbs, like tarragon or fennel, so be sure to read the label to ensure that you are going to love the blend. Ours is perfect for lavender lovers.