Get ready for Thanksgiving by planning your turkey feast! This post provides tips on how to roast turkey for the most mouth-watering result, as well as tips on putting together a successful Thanksgiving feast.
This post is sponsored by Diestel Turkey.
A few weeks ago, I spent a rainy Sunday preparing a Thanksgiving feast, complete with a Brined and Seasoned Whole Turkey and side dishes. Taking my time and enjoying the flood of aromas was both a therapeutic and fun experience. As we all know, the success of a good Thanksgiving feast (be it on the actual day of Thanksgiving, or pre or post-holiday), starts and ends with the quality of the main event: the turkey. It’s no mystery that I’m very selective about the animal protein I source, and the one brand that I have fully trusted over the last 6 years to consistently provide an amazing product, both in quality of background and flavor, is Diestel Turkey. You read that correctly: I’ve been a major consumer of Diestel’s whole body turkeys during the holidays (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter), as well as their full line of turkey products for years.
Let’s back up just a bit.
Confession Alert: When I was younger, I wasn’t a huge fan of oven-roasted turkey during the holidays. I learned years later that the likely reason I didn’t enjoy the turkey feast was because it wasn’t prepared correctly (no offense, mom and dad). Thing is, turkey is incredibly delicious when it’s cooked to perfection, but when overcooked even the slightest bit, or if the bird didn’t enjoy a stress-free healthful lifestyle? It tastes dry and bland, no matter how much basting you do.
Today’s post is a bit different from my usual. Rather than focusing on a recipe, I wanted to share my tips and tricks for cooking the perfect mouth-watering turkey, attention you to my all-time favorite brand of turkey, and also provide side dish recipes and dessert ideas for putting together a delicious yet healthful Thanksgiving feast.
Background about Diestel Turkey:
Diestel Turkey is a family-owned turkey ranch based in Sonora, CA. Diestel turkeys are grown in a natural environment, are raised almost twice as long as long and given three times as much space as conventional turkeys, and are fed a 100% vegetarian diet of premium grains milled daily on the ranch. The Diestel Turkey Ranch recently received Non-GMO Project Verification for their Natural, Organic and Heirloom Collection, and the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) awarded Diestel’s pasture-raised birds its highest 5+ rating.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the ranch, and I can speak to the quality and integrity of operations, from the raising and harvesting of the birds, to the flavor and texture of the final product. The Diestels are truly passionate about humanely raising their birds. Animal Welfare is their biggest priority, as they know it’s not only imperative from a human standpoint, but the quality of care shines through in the quality of the product. Their slogan, “thoughtfully raised,” says it all, as the family doesn’t skip steps when it comes to delivering a healthful, otherworldly product – from their farm to your table. For those, like me, who are cognizant of the story behind their food, Diestel is a company with which you should familiarize yourself (and your face). Learn more about the Diestel Family Story and the ranches Sustainable Practices.
Mail Order Turkey:
Diestel turkey is now available for sale online! This is major news for those who have tried the turkey but don’t have a way of accessing it in their hometown. For your Thanksgiving convenience, you can order Diestel turkey online anytime and select which date you would like to have it arrive at your house. The turkey will arrive fresh – oven ready! Just be sure that the turkey is fully thawed before roasting it in the oven in order to ensure it cooks evenly. Once received, the recommended shelf life of the turkey is 3 to 5 days in your refrigerator.
How it all works:
- You order, they deliver (FREE shipping to CA, OR, ID, NV, AZ, UT)
- Leave the turkey out on the counter for 1 hour before roasting.
- Read the instructions on the tag attached to the turkey – if you follow them to the T, your turkey will be the best thing that has ever graced the presence of your tongue buds.
- Roast your turkey and serve with your favorite side dishes and desserts.
Types of Diestel Turkey Available Online:
- Non-GMO Whole Turkey
- Organic Turkey
- Organic Heirloom Turkey
- Non-GMO Pasture Raised Turkey
- Organic Oven Roasted Turkey
- Fra’mani Brined & Seasoned Turkey
For the Fra’mani Brined & Seasoned Turkey, which is the type I prepared, the turkey is completely ready to go right out of the package…you don’t need to take the time to brine it, season it, stuff it, or baste it. I followed the cooking instructions to the T and the turkey came out incredibly flavorful, with the most amazing texture.
Order now before November 20 to have your quality, Diestel Thanksgiving turkey shipped directly to you. Use the Promo Code: ROASTED12 now through November 14, 2016 at checkout in order to get $12 off your online purchase.
If you’re looking for fool-proof tips to turkey perfection each and every time, I’ve got your back! Here we go:
- If your turkey does not come brined and seasoned, and you’d like to brine it, you can see the instructions for brining and seasoning below.
- I personally find basting to be unnecessary (the Diestels consider their turkeys to be “self-basting” as well), although I’m sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me.
- Stuffed turkeys take longer to roast than non-stuffed turkeys, so bear this in mind when planning your dinner.
- Many folks have the misconception that the longer meat cooks, the better. This is true up until a point, but with a lean meat like turkey, you have to be cognizant of cook time more-so than a fattier meat like beef.
- Roast the turkey 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F, so a standard 12 to 14-pound turkey requires about 3.25 to 3.5 hours to roast.
- Allow the turkey to sit for 15 minutes before carving. The turkey will continue cooking as it sits, and the juices will distribute throughout the meat, ensuring your turkey is perfectly cooked and super moist. The FDA considers 165 degrees F to be the safe internal temperature for eating.
- Don’t use an electric knife when carving the turkey. Use a sharp turkey carving knife, and cut thin pieces from the breast. As an alternative, you can cut the whole breasts off and slice them into chunks, as you see in my photos.
How to Brine a Turkey:
While bringing a quality turkey is not necessary, it can definitely help in the moisture and flavor department. Brining a turkey helps keep the meat very moist throughout the cooking process, leaving you with an end result that’s perfectly tender with beautiful texture. Because turkeys are naturally lean, they need help in the moisture department, which is why brining a turkey in advance is a smart move. As it brines, the turkey absorbs both water and salt, thereby seasoning the bird through and through. All you need to brine a turkey is a large pot, 4 quarts of water, and 1 cup of coarse sea salt.
Steps to brining a turkey:
1.) Get your hands on a pot (or bucket) that is large enough to fit the turkey such that the whole bird will be submerged.
2.) Remove the turkey from its packaging and also remove the inner giblets before placing the bird in the pot.
3.) Heat 1 quart of water on the stove top just long enough to dissolve 1 cup of coarse sea salt (if using table salt, use only 2/3 to 3/4 cup). Allow the brine mixture to cool until it is lukewarm to the touch.
4.) Pour the brine mixture over the turkey, then pour the last 3 quarts of water over the turkey as well. If turkey is not completely submerged in liquid, form another small batch of brine solution, dissolving 1/4 cup of coarse sea salt in 1 quart of water. If the turkey floats toward the top of the pot, you can weight it down with a dinner plate.
5.) Cover the pot and refrigerate. Brine for 12 to 24 hours
6.) Remove the turkey from the pot, rinse it with fresh water and pat it dry. If time allows, allow the turkey to air dry overnight in a roasting pan in your refrigerator, covering it loosely with plastic wrap, foil, or bags. If you don’t have time for this step, you can skip to seasoning your bird and roasting it. NOTE: Be sure to thoroughly clean any surface the raw turkey touches to avoid contamination.
7.) Season the bird using a slurry (see recipe below for example), and roast in the oven.
My Go-To “Slurry” Recipe:
When it comes to seasoning a turkey, I have a seriously awesome “slurry” recipe for you. A slurry is nothing more than olive oil combined with a bunch of spices, dried herbs, and salt. When you rub this mixture onto a turkey and allow it to marinate for a while, you’re slated to end up with the most flavor-packed meat and insanely mouth-watering crispy skin. Here’s my go-to slurry recipe – feel free to scale up or down the measurements depending on the size of your bird.
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika (not smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Add all of the above ingredients to a small blender and blend well to combine (or whisk together in a bowl).
Pour and rub the slurry mixture over the full surface of the bird, gently massaging it in. Allow the turkey to marinate in this slurry at least 15 minutes. If possible, allow turkey to marinate overnight, but be sure to let the bird sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, cover the turkey with foil, and roast, covered for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue roasting the remainder of the time, according to the size of the turkey.
A Thanksgiving Feast!
Below are some of the recipes I recommend from this site for adding to your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) menu:
- Beet Hummus and Caramelized Onion Crostini
- Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese and Roasted Cranberries
- Baked Brie with Maple-Spiced Apples
- Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
- Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Pears with Goat Cheese and Honey
- Baked Brie with Boozy Fig Spread and Pecans
- Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables
- Pear Apple Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Pan-Fried Bacon Green Beans with Pomegranate Seeds
- Maple-Cinnamon Glazed Acorn Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Crock Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- Creamy Kabocha Squash Mash (Paleo)
- Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake (Grain-Free)
- Vegan Pumpkin Scones with Coffee Glaze
- Superfood Dark Chocolate Beet Fudge
- Gluten-Free Salted Double Chocolate Chip Buckwheat Cookies
- Kabocha Squash Spice Cake with Chai Caramel
- Paleo Pumpkin Pie
- Maple Pecan Gluten Free Shortbread
- Flourless Pumpkin Bars