For many the Thanksgiving holiday just isn’t Thanksgiving without the turkey. Whether you deep fry, barbeque or roast it in the oven your, turkey needs some additional flavor, which often comes in the form of turkey seasoning herbs. Herbs for roasting a turkey can be dried but, ideally, you will use fresh herbs. The question is, what herbs go with turkey?
Most people use a blend of herbs that are typical for roasting a turkey. This doesn’t mean you can’t diverge from the norm. At the end of the day, herbs you grow and use for roasting your turkey should please your palate and those of your guests of course.
Some people go wild and use lots of global spices to create a Moroccan spiced turkey or Cajun barbequed turkey, but for the purposes of this article we are focusing on turkey herbs, not spices.
Herbs that Complement Turkey
During Thanksgiving we use a lot of herbs and spices. Traditional pumpkin pie has cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and allspice; a heavily spiced dessert for sure. Many people make sage stuffing to go with their turkey either cooked inside the bird or separately as a side dish.
Other herbs that go well with fowl like turkey are basil, chives, lovage, marjoram, parsley, and summer savory. You can add one of these herbs to the above turkey roasting seasoning mix or omit an herb from the seasoning mix and add one or two additional herbs. It all depends on what combinations you prefer.
How to Use Herbs to Season a Turkey
There are quite a few ways you can season a turkey before cooking. You can use a variety of dried herbs mixed together and then rubbed into the cavity and under the skin of the bird. A better way of doing this is by making a compound butter.
Everything is better with butter, and turkey is no exception. Ideally begin with fresh unsalted butter although salted may be used.
Chop fresh herbs up with a sharp knife and blend with room temperature butter. It is better to mix the two with a paddle or sturdy spoon or spatula rather than blending in a food processor which will make aromatic, albeit, green butter.
The proportions for herb butter are 1 packed level tablespoon (15 ml) of fresh herbs or ½ teaspoon (7 ml) dried herbs to 2 ounces or 4 tablespoon (59 ml) of butter. Combination butters are great for all kinds of cooking or can be used on sandwiches. If you are not going to use the herb butter immediately add a dash of lemon juice to keep the green herbs from browning.
Another Way to Season Roasted Turkey
Another way to season a turkey prior to cooking is a little messy but fun. Salt and pepper the inside of the bird and then stuff it with bunches of thyme, sage, and rosemary (plus or minus other herbs), a halved lemon, garlic cloves and quartered onion.
Brush the exterior of the turkey with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the turkey at 350F. Calculate the length of time the bird will take by using this formula: 13 minutes for every pound of bird.