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Roasted Holiday Turkey Recipe

Roasting the holiday turkey in our wood-burning oven is a wonderful way to achieve a great looking dish, deliciously browned on the outside, while nice and juicy on the inside. Your guests and family will love it!

Serves 10 people

  • One 15 to 17 lbs organic or free-range turkey
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil or melted butter
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 ribs and tops of celery, cut
  • 2 carrots, cut
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and handful of fresh thyme

Start a good size fire in your wood-burning oven using dry hardwood. Let the fire burn for 3 hours to gather a good amount of indirect heat in the walls of the oven. After 3 hours you will scoop out the embers from the oven and place the turkey in the middle of the floor when the oven temperature registers 500° F. Close the door tightly and keep it so throughout the cooking process.

Alternatively, you can burn the fire for 2 hours and leave the embers inside, pushed towards the wall on the left or right side and closing the door. With this method you may have to cover the turkey with aluminum foil to avoid it browning too much. Start cooking the turkey at 500° F.

Wash the turkey inside and out and pat as dry as possible with paper towels. Rub the inside of the cavity with the lemon cut in half, squeezing to let the juice out, then take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.

Make the stuffing separately, instead of cooking it inside the turkey.

For flavor put the onion, ¾ of the parsley bunch, the carrots, ½ of the herbs, and the celery in the cavity. You may have to cap the cavity with some aluminum foil, so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Close the cavity up with string or metal skewers. Tie the turkey legs together and tie the string around the body as well to keep the wings close. Stuff the neck cavity with the rest of the parsley and herbs and close it with skewers and string.

Rub either melted butter or olive oil all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the outside of the turkey OR use a turkey that has been left in salt-water brine for 24 hours prior. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and the rest of the rosemary and thyme over the turkey.

Place the turkey breast down on a roasting pan with rack. The drippings will be caught in the roasting pan and can be used later for making the gravy.

Insert turkey into the 500° wood-fired oven, in the middle of the floor. Check the turkey after about 45 minutes and turn the bird over. If it is browning too fast, cover it as needed with aluminum foil. Return the turkey to the oven for approximately another 1½ hours.

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, half an hour before the turkey should be done. The dark meat of the thigh should be about 175° F and the white meat of the breast should be 160° to 165° F. It is hard to overcook the turkey in a wood-fired oven, the convection heat will keep the juices inside, while searing the outside.

Be careful to open the door sparingly, so that you will keep the heat inside the oven. Keep the door closed throughout the cooking process, and check the turkey only when needed.

Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Turkey Gravy

Scrape the drippings off the bottom of the roasting pan and pour them in a small skillet. If there is excess fat, ladle it off.

In a bowl add a quarter cup of cornstarch and just enough water to dissolve it. Beat the mixture with a spoon to remove all lumps. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the drippings, stirring all the time. You may not use all the cornstarch mixture, add only as much as needed to get the right thickness. Keep in mind it takes a little time for the cornstarch to thicken the gravy. Add salt, pepper, sage, thyme and other seasoning of your choice.

Save the Bones for Stock

Make a delicious turkey soup with the leftover bones, skin, veggies and herbs used for stuffing the turkey, any leftover drippings and giblets (except the liver).

Put the leftovers in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered for at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. Remove the bones and strain the stock.

Prepare the turkey soup just like you would a chicken soup. Add chopped carrots, onions and celery in equal parts, plus some garlic cloves and parsley. If there’s any leftover mashed potatoes from the holiday feast, you can add this or rice or pasta. Add some fresh or canned tomatoes.

Or prepare some beans in your wood-fired oven by placing the bean pot in the oven right after you take out the turkey. See Bean recipe.

Add the beans to the turkey stock.

Season with herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary.
Buon appetito from Los Angeles Ovenworks!

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