The single most common problem cooks have with holiday birds is that the meat is too dry. So then why stuff them with dried bread – which is sure to absorb juices that would otherwise stay in the meat? I fill my birds with things that will add moisture, like vegetables and citrus fruits, and cook the stuffing in a separate pan. I also brine my turkey for at least 24 hours prior to roasting to help seal in the moisture. As a result, my roast turkeys are full of flavor and very moist and my stuffing recipes produce great tasting stuffing with good color and texture.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus 15 min. per pound
Serves: Assume 1 1/2 lbs. turkey per person for generous portions and a few leftovers.
- One family size Turkey (usually 15-22 Pounds)
- 4-5 Tbsp. Victoria Taylor’s Holiday Seasoning, divided
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 C. fennel (mix of green and white portions) cut into 1” pieces
- 2 oranges cut into 1” chunks
- 1 lemon cut into 1” chunks
- 2 carrots cut into 1” pieces
- 1 C. leafy celery tops cut into 1” pieces
Preheat the oven to 325°.
To prepare the turkey, remove the giblets and neck. Place the giblets and neck in 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour, strain the stock and set it aside for the gravy and basting.
Remove the turkey from brining solution and pat dry (do not rinse). If you did not brine the turkey you should rinse it with cool water and pat dry.
In a plastic bag or medium bowl combine 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. Holiday Seasoning, the lemon, oranges, fennel, carrots, and celery.
Stuff the turkey neck and main cavity with the orange-fennel mixture. I enclose the neck cavity by skewering it with toothpicks but leave the other open.
Now use the last 1 Tbsp.of olive oil to coat the breast and legs. Working with your hands to loosen the skin from the breast, spread 2-3 more Tbsp. of Holiday Seasoningbetween the turkey skin and the breast meat and all over the bird. Cook for 15 minutes per lb. basting occasionally with the turkey stock. If you brined the turkey check the internal temperature more frequently as it may take less than 15 minutes per pound to cook. The temperature should reach a minimum of 165° in the middle of the breast when safely cooked.
Remove the turkey from the pan, place on a cutting surface and cover tightly with foil for 20 minutes before carving. Leave the orange-fennel mixture in the bird. This stuffing is to flavor the bird, not to eat. For stuffing ideas, see my Holiday Stuffing recipes.
Recipe Notes and Serving Suggestions:
The keys to this juicy and flavorful bird are the Holiday Seasoning Blend, Traditional Brining Blend and the additional flavor and cooking juices provided by the orange-fennel “stuffing”. The more traditional approach of stuffing the turkey with a portion of the meal’s bread based stuffing just makes the stuffing wet and the turkey dry. That means dry turkey and fewer juices for gravy. For help making easy gravy for your holiday meal, see my Classic Holiday Gravy recipe.
Also be sure to check my related posting How to Brine Your Thanksgiving Turkey Using Victoria Taylor’s Brining Blends.