How to Have a Moist Thanksgiving Turkey

When my parents married, one of my Dad’s aunts, Aunt Iva, taught my Mom to cook the turkey breast side down.  It keeps the breast meat moist and delicious.  Our family has done it this way ever since.

First, you need to take your turkey out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. This will help your turkey to cook evenly.  Next, you will need a large disposable aluminum roasting pan.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

foil roasting pan

Then, you need to gather your vegetables for the bottom of the roasting pan.  The vegetables will create a rack for your turkey to sit on.

root vegetables

Now, peel your onions, parsnips and carrots.  Cut the onions, carrots, celery, parsnips and fennel into large pieces so they will not burn during the long roasting time and place in the bottom of the roasting pan.  You can also use the fennel fronds as well.  Quarter the lemons and orange and put half of the quarters in with the vegetables.  The rest will go inside the turkey.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder and poultry seasoning over the vegetables and drizzle with olive oil. Mix to coat all the vegetables.  The vegetables are going to season your drippings that will help to later make your gravy.

vegetables cut in bottom of roasting pan

Now, you are ready to work on the turkey.  Take your defrosted turkey and in your kitchen sink, rinse the inside and out under running water.  Next, lay the turkey on a large cutting board.  Pat it dry with paper towels.  Over the whole turkey, rub the skin with olive oil. Season the turkey by sprinkling the following spices inside and outside the bird on the back and breast sides.  Place the remaining lemon and orange slices inside the turkey.

Seasonings:

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Poultry Seasoning

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Rosemary

Fresh Sage

turkey seasoned and stuffed with lemons and oranges

When finished, place the turkey breast side down in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.  This will keep all of the juices running down into the breast meat and stay tender and juicy.

seasoned turkey in roasting pan upside down on vegetables (3)

Place turkey on the oven rack so that it is in the middle of the oven for even cooking.  The standard cooking time is 15 minutes/lb.  Set timer for 1 hour intervals and turn the roasting pan each hour for even heat distribution.  Add chicken broth to the vegetables if they appear to be too dry to keep them from burning.  When you have about 45-60 minutes left on your cooking time, flip the turkey from the back to breast side up.

turkey just turned

Set your timer for 30 minute intervals to assure the breast does not become too brown. When the breast is getting close to the color you want, pierce the thigh with a knife and if the juice runs clear the turkey is done.  If the juices have any red then continue to cook until clear. If the breast is browning more than you want then place a piece of aluminum foil over the breast to stop the browning.  You can also use a meat thermometer.  You want to stick it in the thickest part of the leg thigh area not touching any bone.  When the thermometer reads 160 degrees your turkey is done.

Now, your turkey is cooked.  The turkey may not be as golden brown as you like, but the breast will be juicy.  Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes so it will retain all of those juices in the meat.  Carve and enjoy!

finished turkey

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About Karen Ann Lockyer

At the age of 21, I married my husband, AC and moved from Texas to Florida. I was a long way from home and missed my family. So I began cooking the recipes my Mom had cooked. I quickly became a Mom and wanted to give my children the same experience I had growing up with meals around the dinner table every night. I started with the classics like chicken and dumplings, pot roast, chicken enchiladas and desserts. Every good meal has to end with something sweet. Now my children, Lauren, 22 and AJ, 20 are grown. I spend my time in the kitchen expanding my cooking skills and writing down recipes. I am here to share with you the recipes I grew up on and the ones my kids and AC love. I also travel with AC on his business trips and try to find great restaurants and food along the way. I attribute my love for cooking and food to my family who always encourage me and enjoy being my guinea pigs.
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