Who says you need to wait for Christmas or Thanksgiving to make a Traditional Turkey Dinner? As long as I don’t have the oven on for hours during the summer months, I say any time is a good time for turkey. Some people may be overwhelmed by the idea of cooking a traditional turkey dinner. I’m sure the first time I was a little intimidated myself. It’s been so long ago, I honestly can’t remember. I (somehow) assumed the holiday duties when I moved out of my parents house and every holiday finds my family seated at my table.
I do admit my husband is right beside me in the kitchen during that last half hour right before the meal is served. We’ve been serving turkey dinners for so long together (15 years to be exact), it’s like we’re a pair of dancers on the dance floor, perfectly timed and in tune to each other as we dance our way around the kitchen, always anticipating what comes next and how we can help the other to execute flawlessly.
A few years back, I was watching a cooking show that demonstrated how a traditional turkey dinner was not only one of the most economical meals you could make, it was also healthy for you. So when my local grocer starts selling turkeys for $1.00 a pound (or sometimes even less), I grab at least 2 turkeys for the freezer. Can you think of a cheaper meal? Or should I say meals as I always manage to get more then one meal out of a whole turkey.
Some of my family’s favourite dishes to go with this delicious traditional turkey dinner include:
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe with Bacon
- Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
- Baked Sweet Potato Rounds
- Seven Layer Salad
- Caesar Salad with my homemade eggless dressing
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
- Baked Brie in Puff Pastry
And if you’re not sure what to do with all that leftover turkey, check out my recipes for turkey shepherds pie and turkey club house sandwiches. The family got their fill of turkey that week for another month or two, and I had a cheap grocery week filled with delicious meals.
Traditional Turkey Dinner
- 12-15 lb turkey (or larger)
- ½ cup butter , softened
- 2 tbsp olive oil + additional for drizzling
- 1 +1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 large lemon
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 large onion
- salt & pepper
If your turkey is frozen, place the turkey in the fridge 3 days (for a 12-15 lb turkey) prior to the day your going to cook it to allow it to defrost.
When you’re ready to start preparing the turkey, take the turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes in advance. Rinse with cold water and pat the turkey dry.
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Check the cavities (front and back) of your turkey for extra parts (ie. Neck, heart, liver). Place your turkey in your roasting pan. Fold the wings behind the turkey to prevent them from burning while they cook. You can place the extra turkey parts in the bottom of the roaster for added flavor to the drippings or discard them.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp dried parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Separate the skin from the turkey breast using your fingers or by using a spatula. Be gentle as to not tear the skin.
Spoon the butter mixture under the skin, spreading the butter around by massaging the top of the skin. This keeps the turkey tender and juicy. Not to mention the flavor the turkey will absorb while cooking!
Drizzle the additional olive oil over top of the turkey, rubbing it all over the skin. Sprinkle the additional parsley over top of the bird. Season with additional salt and pepper.
Cut the lemon and onions into wedges and the garlic in half. Stuff all this into the cavity of the turkey. Truss the turkey together by tying the turkey base and cross legs together.
Place the cover on the roaster or completely cover with foil to keep as much of the moisture inside during the cooking process as possible. Place in your oven and get ready for the wonderful aromas to begin.
Basting the turkey every 30 minutes will make the turkey even juicier. Cook the turkey for approximately 3 1/2 hours for a 10 lb turkey. A good rule of thumb is about 20 minutes per pound.
Using a cooking thermometer, check the internal temperature. The turkey thigh should be 180 F when fully cooked and the breast should be 170 F. Remove the turkey from the oven to allow to rest. Allow the turkey to rest for at least half an hour before cutting and serving.
Transfer your turkey to a warm platter to serve.