Turkey with herb butter and a PSA

Don't buy into the anti-stuffing crusade pack of lies

Roasting poultry is one of the best ways to flavor the meat while keeping it juicy. Cooking times vary depending on if the bird is stuffed, brined or what have you. Lately there have been many television and print chefs screaming about the dangers of stuffing. It has gotten to the point where a stuffed turkey is portrayed as a bacteria time bomb set to kill every person who even sees it.  To all of them I say this: Nonsense you big wussies.

Granted stuffing a bird makes it take longer to cook, thus risking drying out the white meat before the darker is done. Luckily I have a way to solve that problem. I took a page from the French way of thinking and use a liberal dose of butter. Below is the recipe for herb butter. It can be made and then kept in the fridge where a tablespoon can be used at a time if desired. For this recipe you will need one stick. By separating the skin from the meat and generously rubbing butter into every bit of flesh you create a moisture barrier and bring extra flavor to the meat. The easiest way to do this is by sliding your hand between the skin lifting it gently to keep from removing it. Try to keep it as tight as possible so the skin will come back to shape after adding butter. Take a tablespoon of warm herb butter and rub it into the flesh. Continue until the whole bird is done. If any butter remains rub it into the cavity before adding stuffing.

Herb Butter

  • 4 tbsp assorted chopped fresh herbs ( I use 1/2 sage 1/2 rosemary)
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp)

Bring butter to room temperature. Saving the wrapper, spoon butter into bowl. Add seasonings and mix well. Spoon butter back into wrapper and form into loaf. The herb butter can now be stored for later use in the refrigerator or used immediately.

Aside from the butter massage, a quick high heat at the start helps to crisp the skin and trap more moisture in the meat. I roast the bird covered in tin foil for 30 minutes at 415 degrees. I then reduce the heat to 345 degrees and remove the foil. Continue to bake the bird until it is done basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices. It also helps to add two cups of wine to the baking dish before setting the turkey in on a roasting rack. If you do not own a roasting rack, I recommend buying one since it provides air flow under the bird for even cooking and allows the fat to drip away completely. It also makes it easier to lift a 20-plus pound bird out of a hot roasting pan so that the pan juices can be collected for gravy.

Now, for the public service announcement. Don’t let this happen to your turkey:

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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94 Responses to Turkey with herb butter and a PSA

  1. I’m a huge fan of butter under the skin and totally agree about the wussies!

  2. TasteFood says:

    I know I have to wait 2 weeks, but now I really want some turkey.

  3. easybaked says:

    Oh my WORD….can it be Thanksgiving now??!!! I want TURKEY! 🙂 Love the video too– bring on the holiday season!!!!!

  4. zestybeandog says:

    I’m going to try this, thanks for the great tip! I couldn’t imagine not
    Stuffing my turkey… All the years previously stuffing and I’m still alive!

  5. Kristy says:

    I love this tip. Butter!!! I’m going to try this for sure! And I’m so glad you are all for the stuffing of the bird. I wasn’t about to give that up. It’s just too dang good. 🙂 Great movie clip!

  6. Roasting is the best way to go, always.

  7. I use good beer instead of wine and olive oil instead of butter, but everything you suggested sounds delicious! Maybe next time I make a turkey I’ll switch things up a bit…

  8. National Lampoons is a classic! I have to get this movie for this years festivities. I also heard of Herb Butter on steaks but this sounds delicious on a turkey as well. I love it and I’m glad I came here on a full stomach per Katherine’s suggestions LOL

  9. Tandy says:

    I love using the herb butter method with my chicken before roasting it, but sadly, I am too lazy to stuff the cavity with anything more than herbs, lemon and garlic 🙂

  10. Butter makes everything better. Fantastic looking bird.
    🙂 Mandy

  11. “To all of them I say this: Nonsense you big wussies.” I agree. Great tip regarding the butter massage and roasting rack. I learned both here.

  12. Do you brine the bird first? We’ve been doing that for a few years, and find that it improves the flavor and tenderness…Hubby prefers wild rice with cranberries and pecans over stuffing, so we fill the cavity with citrus friut and garlic and a quartered onion. It’s one yummy bird!

  13. I completely agree about the stuffing! I’m sorry, but who decided all of the sudden that stuffing a bird is dangerous? I’ve eaten stuffed birds for 43 years and have never once had an issue. My Grandma, who passed at the ripe age of 93, ate stuffing filled birds for NINETY THREE years of her life and never had a problem. Plus, there’s just nothing, absolutely nothing, as delicious as stuffing that has been baked in the bird during the holidays. Yum, can’t wait for Thanksgiving!!

  14. Eva Taylor says:

    I saw Martha Stewart rub butter inside the skin of a chicken a few years ago; very tasty! There is a butter thing here in Morocco called Smem (yes, it smells as bad as it sounds). Highly salted butter allowed to ferment over a month…mmmmmmmm. Not. I love your recipe. The Hungarians actually stuff the bird under the skin and not the cavity (I suspect it was usually chicken, but my dear Mom always did it with the thanksgiving turkey). Very moist and delicious!

  15. Kelly says:

    Glad to see someone else is still stuffing! lol. The trickiest part for me is trying to photograph the bird…. You’ve done a great job and the skin looks crispy gorgeous. Yay for butter! My grandmother lived off butter and lard (good old French Canadian lady) till the ripe old age of 99! Not too bad for a natural fat that the Fleischmann’s convinced us would kill us all.

  16. Looks absolutely incredible.

  17. spicegirlfla says:

    Beautiful bird!! I like that you add wine to your roasting pan; I’ve done that as well and it infuses a lovely aroma. I’m glad you posted a roasted turkey recipe as I wasn’t going to do one…so I suppose you don’t mind my linking back to you for the recipe??

  18. You know I am a butter fan. lol. I always put it under the skin of my turkey. The video is hilarious, loved it.

  19. Sissi says:

    Even the driest and oldest bird wouldn’t resist with such a buttery treat! I love the video.

  20. What is a turkey anyway without a ton of butter smothered in and outside the skin! Your turkey looks like perfection. Simply stunning

  21. The herb butter treatment is great on roast chickens, too…same principal. Gorgeous looking turkey…yours, not the National Lampoon one…heh, heh!

  22. Ooh I am so with you on this. One year I did goose (although it´s enormous there´s not actually much meat). One end had the meat stuffing with apples and the other had prunes soaked in armagnac. Bring on the stuffing! PS. Am still laughing at the National Lampoon´s sketch – that´s how my dogs eat when they have something particularly crunchy 🙂

  23. InCucinaDaME says:

    I had watched a video on ALL RECIPES on a very similar token; BTW I prefer the way you put it, wait for my posts on Thanksgiving 🙂

    If you want to watch the video, here’s the link http://allrecipes.com/features/holidays/thanksgiving/default.aspx?ms=1&prop25=71147347&prop26=PieCountdown&prop27=2011-11-08&prop28=RecipeLinks&prop29=Link_4&me=1

  24. Courtney says:

    Great movie!! Definitely a holiday classic. Thanks for the PSA, too. Butter is my friend, as always.

  25. egg me on says:

    Haha, love the Christmas Vacation clip. Amazing movie. And I love that you create a moisture barrier with herb butter. Simply amazing. I’ve never actually stuffed a bird — we even call it dressing because it’s never “stuffed” — but maybe I won’t be a wuss and try this.

  26. nrhatch says:

    We love Christmas Vacation . . . a classic! 😀

  27. ChgoJohn says:

    Ich bin ein Briner. I really do love turkey and every year, at some point during The Dinner, I wonder why I don’t roast one more often. The dinner, the sammiches, the stock, and the risotto made from the stock. It’s all soo good!

  28. Wow that turkey looks fabulous! I haven’t had much experience with cooking turkey (seems someone else always has that part covered) but this really makes me want to give it a shot. Also… LOVE Christmas Vacation. That dinner scene is classic.

  29. pursuitofhappieness says:

    That is one gorgeous turkey! Kudos

  30. Look at that bird! When roasting chicken breasts I loosen the skin and massage olive oil and herbs – but have never done that with a turkey! Thanks for a great idea!

  31. Judy says:

    Everything is better with butter, especially turkey. I am not a stuffing gal, more a dressing gal, it has to be crisp on top.

  32. That turkey looks amazing and I think everything is better with butter:-)

  33. Your turkey looks very delicious and golden!

  34. Nonsense you big wussies…yes yes! Stuff the damn bird!

  35. Oh pahh! I love stuffing. Don’t deny me please.
    I’ve never cooked a whole turkey, it must take forever to cook a big one.

  36. afrankangle says:

    My first Thanksgiving read … awesome … love stuffing cooked with … know the tough decision between pinot noir, reisling, or gwertztraminer.

  37. My solution is simple. I don’t like stuffing, so I don’t stuff the bird. If someone wants stuffing, they can bring it. 🙂 Hehe.

  38. afrankangle says:

    A heavy meal for sure … but the range of tastes can conflict with the big reds … green beans, sweet potatoes, & cranberries drive me to the ones I mentioned. Gotta love the wine with this meal!

  39. I love a stuffed bird (duck or chicken), turkey has never been popular in my neck of the woods. Not sure what the big deal is. And yes, a good rubbing of butter makes both the meat and skin delicious!

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  41. It’s tradition in my family to watch that movie every year. I won’t lie, the first time I made a turkey for Xmas I had nightmares the few nights before I made it! Luckily, it turned out perfect. 🙂

  42. Your stuffed bird looks incredible! Sometimes I like to take thinly sliced lemon rounds and tuck them under the skin along with some sage when I butter the guy up. It sounds like you two have it down to a science. Thanks for the great tips!

  43. Charles says:

    O.o – I had no idea stuffing the bird makes it take longer to cook! Handy to know because I plan on actually making a stuffing for Christmas time! Thanks for the cooking tips Greg 🙂

  44. PhobicFoodie says:

    Haha! At least the skin was crispy…
    I’m loving the Thanksgiving themed posts, by the way!

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