Roast Turkey: my recipe and tips for a moist, tender and flavorful turkey

(more photos are coming soon)

I’m italian and I’ve never cooked a turkey in my life till now, but in spite that I learned and came up with some tips that may help you having a very special roast turkey.

After reading for so many years recipes about roast turkey, I finally made it (in the italian way) and it was really a success.

It was a big tricky for me due to its big size…. and you know how italian kitchens are… small oven, small fridge…. it was 8 kg / 18 lbs and I was thinking to cut it in pieces, but finally I cooked it wholly, it was just the length of the oven… wow!

I put it breast side down and the worst part for me was turning the bird over to brown the breast as well…. it was tooo tender that I thought it would broke, but luckily my mother in law helped me and we were able to turned it over with no harm.
I really think that americans have an appropriate kitchen tool to do this, don’t they???

I searched up and down recipes to make the best turkey, because I know it’s a bland meat and it has to be treated perfectly to become good.
So I read a lot about brine turkey with water, salt and apple cider but I was a bit skeptical about putting salt before cooking so I came up with an old trick that was used by our grandmothers to tenderize game meat.

My brine method and the secret for a moist and tender turkey

I seasoned turkey the italian way, so I put the bird in a large food box, covered with water, 3 big rosemary sprigs, 8-10 sage leaf, few peppercorns, 8 garlic cloves cut in half and the special tenderizing secret: 1 tbsp pure baking soda for each litres water / 4 tbsp pure baking soda for each gallon water.
I leave the turkey with the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours.

My seasoning method

After 24 hours I drained the bird well, covered with white lard, sprinkled all over with salamoia bolognese (a mix of salt, rosemary, sage and garlic finely ground – I will post the recipe soon but you can use your poultry seasoning), stuffed with two north-italian sausages (seasoned NOT with fennel NOT with anise NOT with hot red pepper flakes BUT with garlic salt and pepper), 3 garlic cloves cut in half, a sprig of rosemary, few sage leaf, 1/4 onion and a small handful of salt.

For the cooking time I followed the post on Simply Recipes Blog, where you can find useful pictures and information on how to tie and close up the turkey cavity.

I didn’t make the stuffing in the turkey because it would added too much to the cooking time.

My stuffing recipe: chestnuts, cranberries and north-italian sausage

For the stuffing I put in a large pan a stalk of celery, one onion finely chopped, 3 tbsp of butter and cooked till soft.
I added 800 grams / 1.8 pounds of north-italian sausage chopped and case removed, cooked till little brown.
I sprinkled with 1/2 cup of white wine and allowed the alcohol to evaporate.
I added 200 grams / 7.0 ounces chestnuts, 200 grams / 7.0 ounces cranberries and 3 cups / 100 grams old day bread cubes (about 3/4 inch), a bunch of sage leaf finely chopped, water as needed to cover all the ingredients and cooked till all liquid was absorbed.

My gravy

For this gravy I don’t have exact measures (I’m sorry!) because I did it in a hurry the last 20 minutes of the cooking time of the turkey.
I just put in a sauce pan a cup of onion, carrot and celery mix chopped fine and 3 tbsp butter.
After 3 minutes I added 1/2 cup white wine and let alcohol evaporate.
I cooked vegetables till done and I blended them. Then I added a roux (is a cooking mixture of equal part of all-purpose flour and butter), some turkey stock/drippings (not too much because mine was salty) and some water to adjust the thickness.
The gravy was soooo good! made the turkey meat really better!

Hope my tips could help you and I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Remember… “Home-made strikes back!“.

2 thoughts on “Roast Turkey: my recipe and tips for a moist, tender and flavorful turkey

  1. You can just use clean dish towels to turn the turkey over (so you can still use your hands but not burn them!). I love that the turkey took up your whole oven. This sounds like a great first attempt!

    • Thanks for your tip! By the way, next year I’ll try to find a smaller turkey… even if this was cooked perfectly but we had a lot of leftovers! Luckily my mother in law have a lot of new ideas on how to “recycle” it 😀 (she’s always able to think a new recipe in a minute)

Have you tried my recipe? Please leave a comment!