Slow Roasted Free Range Turkey

Who can living without a Turkey dinner in Thanks Giving and Christmas!  The slow roasting method ensures a moist and juicy bird when dinner is ready.  There are a few things to remember:

  • Fresh turkey – free range if you can find it. (never use frozen turkey)
  • Take the turkey out from the fridge at least two hours prior to roasting
  • Make sure the thigh temperature is 160F before you take it out the oven for self cooking


Overcooking is one of the biggest challenges when cooking a large bird like a turkey. Most people only get the chance to cook it once a year, so it’s also not practiced very often either.

When done correctly, oven roasted turkey can be juicy and flavorful. This just requires the right technique and keeping a mindful eye on the thermostat. Click to keep reading about my holiday turkey roasting techniques!

When shopping for a turkey, do not be fooled by the “Butterball” name. You can buy an ordinary turkey and I will teach you how to make your own, fresh, “Butterball” turkey (hint: it involves butter). I prefer buying free range turkeys, and usually get one around 16 lbs. to feed my guests.

Pre-Game Preparation

The night before you roast your turkey, you will be preparing a butter rub. You will need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, Herbs du Provence, thyme, and sage
  • 1 stick of butter (thawed to room temperature)

Using a plastic bag, combine all of the ingredients with your stick of butter and roll it so all of the ingredients are mixed well. Your newly-formed stick of butter (in a log shape) will be approximately 1.5 inches thick. Place it in the freezer, and let it freeze overnight. The next day, you will be using these “butter pucks” to add flavor and moisture to your turkey.

Seasoning Your Bird

On roasting day, take the butter out of the freezer. Use a knife and cut the butter into 1/2″ thick pieces. Place one “puck” into each opening of the turkey, underneath the skin — neck, breast, thighs. When you roast the turkey, this butter will melt and keep the meat nice and moist, while distributing the fresh garlic and shallots. This method removes the need to constantly baste the turkey and to waste precious heat!

Truss the bird accordingly and spray with olive oil all over. Trussing the turkey will keep the meat tied together, and therefore more moist. The Food Network has a great video here:

Tear a sheet of aluminum foil and place it over the top of the turkey before placing it in the oven.

Note that I do not actually “stuff” the turkey with “stuffing.” I will provide the recipe, below, for a pan-roasted stuffing instead. These are my reasons for doing so:

  1. It takes much longer for the oven’s heat to penetrate through the turkey if it is stuffed full of bread
  2. Fluid from the turkey could leak into the stuffing and leave traces of salmonella
  3. Baking it separately will allow you to achieve a consistent and crispy finish to your stuffing, instead of being soggy

Roasting Strategy:

There are many varieties of roasting meat, but for turkey I will use the slow roasting method using a constant read digital thermometer. I have one very similar to this one, found on Amazon:

There is a very long cord with a probe at the end. The probe will remain in your meat while the digital meter sits outside, telling you what’s happening in the oven.

For turkey, we will require the internal temperature to reach 165F — we can easily get this temperature by inserting the constant read probe into the thickest part of the turkey (thigh). We will be setting the oven’s temperature to only 200F, ensuring that the heat slowly heats up the turkey to its desired temperature. The browning/crisping of the skin will be left to the end, when the internal temperature reaches 155F. At 155F, turn the oven to 400F until the internal temperature reaches 160F. At this point, you can turn the oven off and leave the turkey in there to allow the residual heat to continue raising the temperature to our final number, 165F. Most importantly, your turkey must REST for a minimum of two hours.

Follow these steps and I will ensure you that your turkey will be the best-tasting, most most, and most tender one you have ever made!

Oven-roasted turkey dressing:

Preheat oven to 375F

(This only takes half an hour, so you can turn the oven back on before you are ready to serve your meal)

  • 1 bag (approx 6 cups) of dried bread
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 1 medium sweet onion (Walla-Walla preferred but not necessity)
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1.5 cups of unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 stalk of green onion
  1. Dice the celery, sweet onion, shallots, cloves, carrots, and green onion
  2. In a pan on medium heat, brown these ingredients in approximately 5 tablespoons of olive oil and add a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl, use your hands to break apart your bag of dried bread
  4. Combine sauteed ingredients and 1.5 cups chicken stock to bowl of bread and mix well
  5. Grease a baking pan (approx 2″ deep) and pour bread mixture in.
  6. Bake at 375F for half an hour

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