Christmas Eve Dinner: NOT Orange Herb Butter Turkey

Continuing the recipes for the Christmas Eve Menu.

How do you cope with cooking a big meal for a group?  I try to get as much done ahead of time as possible.  The desserts are done, the stuffing is in the baking dish, the cranberry sauce is done, and the giblets are simmering on the stove for the gravy.  The turkey is washed and ready to prep.  Normally I’d have it all prepped and ready to pop in the oven, but since I”m using an orange butter I can’t do it until about 30 minutes ahead.  Citrus begins to breakdown the meat and would leave it rubbery if I applied it tonight.

Tomorrow will be making the crostini, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy while the turkey cooks.

Orange butter you say?  Yup.  I started with a citrus turkey recipe and then, didn’t like it, so I made it my own.

So I did not like this recipe at all.  The butter did not blend well with the citrus.  I’ll do it my usual way next time:  Olive oil and orange juice on the skin, oranges and herb packet in the bird cavity.  

Orange Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 clementine oranges, remove seeds
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Add all ingredients in the blender (yes, orange with peels on, I call that easy zest) and blend until completely smooth.

To prepare the turkey:

Remove giblets, etc.  Wash and dry the turkey.  Run your hands under the skin, gently lifting it away from the turkey.  I can usually even pull it away from the legs and thighs, just depends on the bird.  Take half the orange butter and run between the turkey and the skin.  Then spread the remainder on the outside of the bird, covering the skin completely.  Stuff the bird with 3-4 clementines, cut in half.  As you put them into the cavity, give them a squeeze so the juice gets into the cavity.  As the bird cooks, the oranges will continue to steam and keep the bird moist.

Roast as you like.  I’ll be using a bag.  You can also do a technique that works well with a citrus butter – preheat oven to 450 degrees, cook the bird for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and cook until it reaches at least 165 degrees, it should reach 175 to 180 while it rests before carving.

I’ll probably not use the drippings for gravy, well see what its flavor is like, I’m just afraid it will be too sweet.  But I will be using the simmered giblet broth for the gravy.  It works great.  I also used some to flavor the stuffing.