Turkey Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving Feast

By CHEF HOWARD KARP for the Flathead Beacon Newspaper

It’s hard to believe that it’s already November, but here we are. We now find ourselves thinking about preparations for one of the most important meals of the year – the Thanksgiving feast. Hopefully this recipe will help you prepare your best Thanksgiving turkey yet.

To really enhance the flavors, I always recommend brining the turkey overnight before cooking it. Stuffing the cavity of the turkey with citrus and apples also creates a wonderful flavor, and the butter and herb spread will ensure your turkey is beautifully golden brown.

There’s a lot of technique that goes into creating a flavorful, tender turkey. If you need additional tips, I have a video demonstration available at www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com (click on “Turkey Tips by Chef Howard”).


Recipe for Poultry Brine

  • 5 lemons, halved
  • 24 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 head garlic, halved through the equator
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 gallons water

Combine all ingredients in large pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and cool completely, then chill before using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Whole poultry can brine up to 12 hours. Smaller cuts should only brine up to 12 hours.

Recipe for Oven Roasted Turkey

  • 16 lb. turkey
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 tbsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. dried sage
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. butter, softened plus 1 cup melted
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Clean apple, orange and grapefruit. Cut all into wedges. Stuff into cavity of turkey. Combine tarragon, thyme, parsley, sage, salt, pepper, and grind all together. Add ground spices and lemon zest to softened butter, stir to combine. Smear half of the compound butter all over turkey. Dip cheesecloth into melted butter and lay over bird to cover. Smear other half of compound butter over the turkey, covering cheesecloth. Place turkey in roasting pan. The bird should take 12 minutes per pound to cook. Put turkey in 500-degree conventional oven (450-degree convection), legs pointing toward back of oven, for 30 minutes. Then turn oven down to 350 degrees (300 degrees convection). A 16-pound turkey should cook in less than 3 hours. Remove turkey from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 158 degrees. Let turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving to ensure the bird reaches the cooked temperature of 165 degrees before serving.

I look forward to hearing how your turkey turned out. Please email me your comments at chefhmk@gmail.com.