Roasted Turkey with Lemon and Sage Compound Butter


With Thanksgiving  past and Christmas on the horizon I was a bit shocked when Kevin suggested we make a turkey this week. We were just wandering around the grocery store picking up a few items when we stumbled upon the turkeys and they were on sale. He looked at me and said, “Do you want to make a turkey?”. I don’t know why it seemed strange to me at first to make a turkey at any other time of year besides the holidays, but the foodie in me kicked in and my response was “Heck ya!”. I knew it would give me the opportunity to try a new way of roasting my turkey.

I have to admit to the fact that, even though I am adventurous in writing new recipes and changing up old ones, I have never altered the way I make my turkey. It is the same way my grandfather and my mother made it. I guess it just seemed like a tradition (or laziness….let’s go with tradition though because it sounds better).

I was watching the show The Chew and they had one episode where all of the stars made their own version of roasted turkey. All of them sounded wonderful but one of them used a compound butter and that set off the light bulb in my head. A while back I made a chicken with compound butter up under the skin and it was fabulous! I have no idea why I never connected that wonderful experience with a turkey. I mean really? A turkey is just a big chicken right? OK, I decided to roll up my sleeves and give it a try.

Oh, one of the best parts about this recipe? No basting!! The butter bastes the turkey and crisps the skin.

OK I know this isn’t a turkey picture but I just wanted say Merry Christmas to everyone!
Now on to the grub….
Mix your butter, sage, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Get your turkey all washed up, patted dry, and nestled into it’s roaster bed. Season the inside and outside with salt and pepper.
Place your pierced lemons and sage leaves inside the cavity.
Gently loosen the skin and spread the compound butter underneath it, I used my hands (sorry no photos of that but I was all alone with no camera man). Reserve a bit of the compound butter to rub on the outside of the turkey.
The result? A golden brown turkey with soooo much flavor!
Roasted Turkey with Lemon and Sage Compound Butter
12-16 pound turkey, thawed 
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
5 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
10 whole fresh sage leaves
3 lemons, one zested, one half juiced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
Juice of half a lemon
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425° F. Arrange an oven shelf in the lower third of the oven.

Let turkey come to room temperature. Remove the neck and giblets, reserve to make turkey broth. Drain the turkey and pat it dry inside and out.

Meanwhile, make the compound butter.  In a large bowl, combine room temperature butter, shallot, garlic, minced sage, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Place the turkey in a roaster with a rack. Season the inside of the turkey with salt & pepper to taste. Puncture two lemons with a knife and stuff inside the turkey along with fresh sage. Carefully loosen the turkey skin and spread the compound butter underneath it, reserving a bit of the butter to coat the outside of the turkey with. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper if needed.

Roast the turkey in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to cook the bird until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg/thigh joint reads 165 degrees F.

Remove turkey from oven and cover with tin foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

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About Bobbi Burleson

Mom to 2 kiddos and one little Westhighland Terrier. A So Cal girl at heart, I now live with my boyfriend/sous chef in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I am a writer, recipe developer, photographer, and lover of wildlife, the out of doors, and scrapbooking. My philosophy is to hold those you love close and enjoy each and every moment you can. Oh, and eat mac and cheese, you can never have too much mac and cheese!

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