Herb-Roasted TurkeySay "Thanksgiving" and I think "turkey." And while I think turkey is delicious and a great choice for a large Thanksgiving dinner, there are other delicious birds that have more flavor than most supermarket turkeys and are a good choice for smaller gatherings. To mix it up I also like to serve chicken, duck, game hens or quail.
Here are a few ideas, as well a recipe for your best turkey ever:
- Choose chicken. Roasted chicken is a beauty any night, but set atop a rich stuffing and roasted until crispy brown, it's the perfect choice for an irresistible holiday meal. Keep it moist and juicy with this recipe for Chicken Baked over Mushroom Dressing.
- Game hens are even easier to prepare than chicken and make your celebration more festive. Their buttery flavor complements the vegetables in Game Hens with Brussels Sprouts & Chestnuts.
- Love dark meat? Go for quail-small, meaty birds that spend most of their time on the ground and have a deep, gamy flavor. In Quail with Ginger-Cranberry Pilaf, we sear quail in a skillet and then finish them in the oven over a bed of pear- and cranberry-studded brown-rice pilaf. Although they look like they might be tricky to prepare, quail couldn't be easier to roast.
- Delicious duck. Roasted duck fills your house with tantalizing smells and is a nice change of pace. In Orange-Roasted Duck, the orange marmalade and soy sauce glaze accentuates the rich, gamy taste of duck. It's a special treat for company any time of year.
- Traditional turkey. Herb-Roasted Turkey is one of our easiest turkey recipes (just 30 minutes of active time) and it gets its delicious flavor from a simple fresh herb and oil rub. This method produces all the good looks and moist flavor you dream of in a Thanksgiving turkey. Make sure you show this beauty off at the table before you carve it. Garnish your serving platter with fresh herb sprigs and citrus wedges.
1 10- to 12-pound turkey
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs plus 20 whole sprigs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and/or marjoram, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Aromatics: onion, apple, lemon and/or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
3 cups water, plus more as needed
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 475°F.
2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making gravy. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place aromatics and 10 of the herb sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water and the remaining 10 herb sprigs to the pan.
3. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven. If using a remote digital thermometer, insert it into the deepest part of the thigh, close to the joint. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water. The turkey is done when the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone) registers 165°F.
4. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove string and carve.
Makes 12 servings, 3 ounces each, plus plenty of leftovers.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving (without skin): 155 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 0 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 0 g fiber; 175 mg sodium; 258 mg potassium.
By Carolyn Malcoun
When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.
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