This year we will be traveling back to California for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with my husband’s family. But my sister and I didn’t want to miss our favorite cooking holiday, so we decided to celebrate a little early. We spent all day Saturday making WAY too much food. Hayley made us breakfast while I got to work on this mouth-watering Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey. We love all the side dishes and yummy desserts, but we all agree that this turkey is hands-down the best Thanksgiving turkey ever! I have broken the process down into 3 easy steps should you desire to make this incredibly moist turkey this holiday season:
Step 1: Clean and Stuff the Turkey
First, heat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare your roasting pan. You will want to keep the turkey off of the bottom of the roasting pan so that it doesn’t sit in it’s juices. Keeping the turkey off the bottom also ensures that it will roast more “rotisserie” style because air will be able to circulate around the entire bird. So if you don’t have a rack inside your roasting pan, use the aluminum foil method. Simply form about six balls of foil that the turkey can rest on.
Now, clean the bird. Remove all the innards, rinse it in water, and then pat it dry. It is important that the skin is dry so that the turkey gets nice and brown. I use paper towels to pat it dry.
Stuff the turkey with a small diced onion, a lemon cut in several pieces, and about 5-8 sprigs of sage.
Stuffing the turkey with these ingredients, particularly the sage, will infuse a TON of flavor throughout the turkey. I leave the onion, lemon, and sage in large chunks so that I can remove them afterwards to make turkey broth or soup.
Step 2: Prepare the Herbed Butter Spread
The essential requirement for keeping a moist turkey while still attaining the beautiful, browned, crispy skin is creating a “fat barrier.” The fat barrier locks the moisture and flavor within the meat and allows the skin to get crispy. It also infuses a bunch of flavor. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) with 1/4 cup of freshly chopped sage. Add in the zest from one lemon (it can even be from the lemon you used to stuff the turkey in step 1). Then you’ll need a tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Mash all the ingredients together so that everything is combined thoroughly.
Now grab the turkey and slowly begin separating the skin from the meat. You’ll need to do this gently to try and keep the skin in tact.
Work your hands all the way to the back of the bird, tearing the sinews and muscle fibers carefully but firmly. You should be able to separate the skin from the breast all the way down each side to the wings.
Do the same thing on each drumstick. Move your fingers all the way down the leg meat, even underneath if you can.
Starting in the back toward the neck cavity, press tablespoon amounts of your “butter barrier” between the muscle and the skin. It might be a bit chunky, but pat it down as smoothly as possible. You should have enough of the butter mixture to cover the breast and both legs.
Work the butter barrier around the entire bird as much as possible.
Now put the turkey on top of the roasting rack or foil balls in your roasting pan. If you like to keep the drippings for gravy, broth, or soup, throw in the turkey neck and innards so that they can release their juices as well. Bake the turkey uncovered at 425 degrees for 45 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for another 1 hour and 30 minutes (this is for a turkey that weighs about 9-13 lbs). Total cook time should be between 2:15 hours and 2:30 hours.
Step 3: Baste the Roasted Turkey
While the turkey is roasting at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, make your basting liquid. This will come in handy toward the end of the turkey’s cooking time. The baste is made of 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine, and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. The Dijon mustard and sage flavors really mix well to create that “Tuscan style” taste.
When the turkey has roasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes, pull it out. Baste the turkey with your Dijon mixture using a basting brush. Don’t be shy, pour at least 1/3 of mixture on the top and sides. Put the turkey back in the oven, facing the other direction so that all the sides cook evenly.
Baste the turkey at least 2 more times, waiting 15-20 minutes between each time. After 2 hours and 15 minutes has passed, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If the thickest part of the meat has reached 160 degrees, remove the turkey and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. If your turkey is a little heavier, it may need more time to cook. Keep checking it with the thermometer so you don’t overcook it. The turkey will still continue to cook once it is removed from the oven.
Once the turkey has cooled a bit, transfer it to your serving platter. I placed my roasted turkey on a bed of fresh parsley and then cut up another lemon for decoration.
This Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey really is the most flavorful and moist turkey. I fall in love with it more every Thanksgiving! If you’re wondering what else is on the table, we had quite the spread! I made a Healthy Green Bean Casserole, Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Homestyle Gravy, Fluffy Yeast Rolls, and a Cinnamon Cranberry Orange Sauce.
Do me a favor and save this pretty picture on Pinterest, would you? If you need more Thanksgiving ideas, check out my Festive for Fall or Tasty Thanksgiving boards.
More than good food, we love being together and enjoying the gifts God has given us. We are so blessed and thankful for His mercies on us. I hope y’all have a Happy Thanksgiving too! Happy Cooking y’all!
- For the Turkey:
- 1 9-13 lb turkey
- 2 lemons, 1 for decoration
- 1 small onion in chunks
- 5-8 sprigs of sage
- Optional: parsley for decoration
- For the butter barrier:
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- ½ cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh chopped sage
- zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- For the Baste:
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ white wine
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare roasting pan with grill rack or foil balls to keep turkey off bottom.
- Remove innards from turkey. Clean, rinse, and pat dry.
- Stuff turkey with onion, lemon, and sage sprigs.
- Mash all the butter barrier ingredients together.
- Use fingers to separate the skin of the turkey from the muscle across the breast and legs.
- Work butter mixture in between the skin and meat covering the breast and legs.
- Place the turkey in roasting pan on top of rack or foil balls. Leave uncovered.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees.
- Prepare basting liquid while turkey cooks.
- After 1 hour and a half of cooking, baste the turkey and turn it the opposite direction in the oven.
- Baste 2 more times, 15-20 minutes apart each time.
- Check turkey at 2 hours and 15 minutes to read the internal temperature.
- Remove the turkey once a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat reads 160 degrees.
- Remove and let rest 15-20 minutes