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Risa and Rosemary Talk Turkey

Compound butter, brine and roasting tips
Credit: adobestock

A tender, juicy turkey is in your future!  All you need to do is take a few simple steps to ensure your bird is properly prepped for the oven.  Risa and her Brooklyn-born mom Rosemary share their Thanksgiving tricks and traditions with this step by step guide.   Read on and enjoy! 

Step One:  Make A Compound Butter, Easy!

This can include whatever herbs and aromatics you like.  Here's Risa's combo:

2 Sticks of unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves...remove leaves from stems

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried sage or rosemary

Mix everything together.  Drop compound butter onto plastic wrap.  Roll plastic wrap around butter creating a log, twist the ends.  Refrigerate up to 4 days.  

Step Two:  Buy A Fresh Turkey And Brine It, Already! 

A fresh bird is free of injected solutions, preservatives and added flavors.  As Rosemary says, "With a frozen bird, you don't know how long its been dead."  So, go fresh and treat it with love and respect as you prep it for roasting.  That means brine it!

For an 18lb-20lb Fresh Turkey with neck and giblets removed. 


8 quarts of cold water

2 cups coarse Kosher Salt

1 cup honey

2 bunches of fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic

5-10lbs of ice

Clean plastic garbage bag or brining bag

Cooler (with wheels preferably) 


Line the cooler with the plastic garbage bag or brining bag.  In a large pot, add the water and kosher salt; stir until dissolved.  Then add the honey; stir until dissolved. Add the garlic and thyme. This is your brine.  

Place turkey in bag in cooler.  Pour brine over top of turkey.  Pull sides of bag up closely and tightly making sure turkey is completely covered/submerged in brine (position the bird head down if you can).  Tie bag.  Surround outside of sealed bag with ice to fill cooler.  Close cooler tightly and keep in a cool/cold place 12-24 hours.  I put the bird in the garage and add more ice after 12 hours.   

Step Three:  Get That Brined Bird In The Oven!


Compound Butter (See recipe above...Step 1) 

5 carrots, peeled and rough chopped

3 yellow onions, rough chopped

5 stalks of celery, rough chopped

1/2 apple 

1 lemon, halved

Olive Oil 

Sea Salt

1/2 cup water

Fresh ground black pepper

Cooking Spray

Roasting pan with rack


 Spread 3 chopped carrots, 3 chopped stalks of celery, 2 chopped onions and the half apple in the roasting pan. Add the water. Place rack securely atop veggies. Spray rack with cooking spray. 

Remove turkey from brine.  DO NOT RINSE THE BIRD.  Just place on cutting board and pat dry inside and out.  Discard brine.  

Take the cold compound butter out of the fridge and cut into 1/2 inch discs.  Gently, using your fingers in a creeping motion, slide your hand between the turkey skin and the meat creating space for the butter.  Start at the bottom of the breast and work your way up to the neck.  Run hands over the top of the thighs and the legs too.  

Place butter discs in-between the skin and flesh of the turkey along the top of the breast and tops of thighs and legs.  

Squeeze lemon to fill the turkey cavity with juice and place the half in the cavity.  Add just a little sea salt in the cavity.  Fill with the rest of the veggies.  

Place bird on the prepared rack.  Drizzle outside of bird with a little olive oil. Season outside of bird lightly with sea salt and pepper as well as any other seasonings you prefer.   

Place in 325 degree oven and roast 10-15 minutes per pound until done. 

Cover with foil if turkey is getting too brown.  

TIP:  Make gravy with drippings (the apple adds a nice bit of sweetness to the gravy)  and serve roasted veggies from pan as a tasty side dish.  

ENJOY!  And Happy Thanksgiving