I have come a long way with roasting turkey. For my first Thanksgiving in Maryland, I grilled a large tilapia fish because apparently there is a tradition that when someone hosts (even though I was not hosting) a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, they are expected to make fish. So I grilled the tilapia and gathered with my college friends for a pot luck Thanksgiving.
The following year, I garnered some confidence and roasted my first turkey. It was a huge challenge both literally and figuratively. I purchased a 20 Lb. bird, even though I was only going to feed about 6 people, and the size made it impossible to handle both before and after roasting. I had no idea about cooking time and temperatures or how to season it and keep it moist. That was my first and last dry, poorly seasoned and falling apart turkey.
Over the years I have perfected how I roast my turkey to the point of getting creative with flavors such as making a Cajun spice marinade. When I initially started incorporating a Cajun spice blend in my turkey recipe, I used to use McCormick’s Bayou Cajun Seasoning. I have not seen it locally on the market for over a year and the remaining stock being offered online is incredibly expensive. the closest substitute I have come across is the Perfect pinch Cajun seasoning. I have not used this one because the Bayou one I used to buy visibly had more herbs in it. Well, they always say necessity is the mother of invention so I took it upon myself to mix up my own Cajun herb blend using standard ingredients such as black pepper, cayenne, paprika and garlic.
With regards to roasting times, I follow the recommendation by credible sources such as epicurious which gives a well detailed chart. I purchased a already brined young turkey from Trader Joes which took care of the brining process for me and saved me a lot of time.
Ingredients Prep: 15 min Roasting Time: 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hrs . Feeds : 10-12 ppl
16Lb. young brined turkey
For Cajun spice marinade;
1 tsp. of each of these six spices
Black pepper (ground)
Also; 2 bulbs of fresh garlic, peeled
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Chicken stock
3 Tbs. of salt
½ tsp. Rosemary
½ tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. (vegetable oil to brush over turkey)
3 cups of Chicken stock
(1) Preheat oven to 450ºF.
(2) Place all 6 herbs, garlic, salt and chicken stock in blender and blend for 2 minute.
(3) Rub salt all over the skin of the turkey.
(4) Using an injector, inject marinade into the fleshy areas of the turkey such as the breast, thigh and legs. If you do not have an injector, you can push your hands beneath the skin of the breast area of the turkey to gain access to the flesh and rub marinade into the flesh. If you have time, allow turkey to marinate for up to 8 hours.
(5) When ready to roast, brush vegetable oil over breast, wings, legs and thighs. Sprinkle a combination of the remaining rosemary and thyme.
(6) Truss the turkey by tying a cooking string around the legs and the wings and breast area. Wrap the tips of the wings and the legs with foil paper to avoid burning.
(7) Add 3 cups of chicken stock to the bottom on the roasting pan. Place turkey in on a rack in the roasting pan and cover with foil paper.
(8) Roast turkey at 450ºF for the first 45 minutes to allow the turkey to quickly rise in temperature and to help make the skin become crispy.
(9) Reduce temperature to 350ºF. and roast for another 2 1/5 hours. After this time has elapsed, start monitoring the internal temperature of the turkey every 10 minutes. When the turkey is ready, the breast area should reach 165ºF. Allow turkey to rest for 15 minutes before carving.