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Prep 45 mins
Cook 5 hrs
My husband got stuck with the job of preparing the turkey one Thanksgiving. This recipe was given to him by our boss. The turkey came out juicy and tender, and everyone loved it. We used thyme and sage for the herbs, but use any herb you like. Cooking time will vary according to the weight of your bird.
- The night before: Take butter and place in bowl to soften. Once the butter has softened to roughly room temperature, put in the bowl the maple syrup, herbs, the zest of the lemon, and juice from 1/2 of same lemon. Stir well until it has an almost whipped consistency. Cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to make the turkey the next day, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take butter mixture out of fridge and set on counter. Take giblets and etc. out of turkey. Put the gibblets in a saucepan on the stove, adding water to cover. Clean the turkey. After cleaning, take a sharp knife (fillet knife recommended) and carefully slice the membrane right under the skin at the hind end of the bird to separate the skin and the meat. After separating an inch or so if skin from meat, use hand(s) to very carefully continue the process for the rest of the breast sections. If a rip happens, take a metal pin or some other such implement and patch it back together. Be careful not to leave any broken skin patches, no matter how small.
- By this time the butter mixture should be about room temperature. Using about 1/2 to 3/4 of the mixture, mash the butter mixture under the skin (still being careful not to break the skin) covering as much of the meat as possible. Once the meat under the skin has been covered, use the remaining about on hands to smear the rest of the bird with the mixture. Put rest of butter mixture in with the giblet stock on the stove. Place turkey on a rack in your roasting pan.
- Taking a piece (or pieces) of cheesecloth that has had warm water run through it to get it moist, cover every inch of the exposed turkey. If your roasting pan has a cover, use it, otherwise take a couple sections of aluminum foil and use it to cover the turkey. Take turkey and place in hot oven and allow to cook uninterrupted for an hour and a half.
- While the turkey is cooking, prepare the basting sauce/stock by first bringing the giblet/butter mixture to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer. Leave mixture simmering throughout the process.
- After the first hour and a half is up, take turkey out of the oven, carefully remove aluminum cover (leave cheesecloth on) and baste liberally with giblet/butter mixture. Repeat this process every half hour. If the mixture on the stove runs out, use the drippings that are in the bottom of the pan. Once the turkey is nearing it's last 10-20 minutes of cooking, baste a final time and place back in oven completely uncovered. Take out roughly 3 minutes before done, re-cover with aluminum foil, and place back in oven. This is to have the inner sanctum reheated to keep the bird nice and warm during the resting period.
- After the bird has finished cooking (see Cooking Times below), let the bird rest in pan, covered, for at least a half hour (an hour would be better) before carving.
- Cooking Times: The bird will require approximately 13-15 minutes per pound total cooking time (this includes the first hour and half in oven). These times are approximate, though, and there are only two real methods of telling when the bird needs to come out of the oven: probe thermometer and the little turkey done indicator. The probe thermometer is more reliable but can be more of a hassle. Basically you will want to place the probe into the turkey no less than an hour before your expected done time. The magic temperature that you are looking for is 160 degrees. Once the bird hits that, remove it from the oven. Carryover heat will take it the rest of the way. If using a turkey done indicator, pull out of the oven when you see it start moving or looking like it's going to pop soon.