Roasting A Gluten-Free Turkey

Turkey seems like something that should naturally be gluten free. Ah, if only it were that easy. Some turkeys are injected with fillers that could potentially contain gluten. That means you need to check the ingredients even when buying a fresh or frozen whole turkey.This year we ordered a turkey from our local meat market. We called before picking it up to make sure that there were no additives. The meat market referred us to the manufacturer – Shelton’s. One phone call to Shelton’s was able to confirm that our bird was gluten free.

We picked up our 24 pound turkey the day before Thanksgiving. I am not a fan of turkey and would have preferred to cook ham for the special occasion but my family wanted to stick to tradition so I made sure to put just as much effort into the turkey as any other dish. Once we arrived back at the house I prepared a sugar and salt brine with thyme, rosemary, sliced oranges and bay leaves. Rather than use a brining bag that costs $10-15, I used an XXL Ziploc bag. We stored the turkey, while it was brining, in a large tub covered in ice. The next morning I prepared an herb rub, then removed the turkey from the brine, patted it dry and placed it in the roasting pan. I filled the cavity with chopped onions and herbs. This will make for more flavorful pan drippings rather than using traditional bread stuffing. I then applied the herb rub between the skin and the meat and seasoned the skin with salt and pepper. Finally, I basted the breast with bay butter (butter melted with two or three bay leaves), placed the pan in the preheated oven and began roasting at 325 degrees.

I tented the breast with foil to keep it from burning. After an hour, I removed the foil and put four pieces of bacon on the breast with toothpicks. It’s a tradition I picked up from my Aunt Judy and Uncle Rick. In theory, it should flavor the turkey breast. I think it just gives you a tasty treat to fight over while the turkey “rests.” After the turkey is done cooking you should wait 30 minutes before slicing for the meat to reach it’s full juiciness.

Brine:
2 cups kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 head of garlic peeled
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 branches of fresh rosemary
2 oranges quartered
Dissolve the salt and sugar in two quarts of boiling water. Add remaining ingredients and ice to cool down the mixture. Once the mixture is cool add to the brining bag with the turkey and enough additional water to keep the bird entirely covered once the bag is sealed and the air removed.

Herb Butter (adapted from Rachael Ray’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast recipe)
1 large onion chopped
The zest of two lemons
24 fresh sage leaves
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and chop until it forms a coarse paste.

Make adjustments to the brine and herb rub according to your taste. This turkey was given high marks by everyone at dinner – juicy and delicious with just a hint of the herbs. My favorite part was the incredible aroma that wafted throughout the house while the turkey was roasting.

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Victor said,

November 28, 2006 @ 1:14 am

Great blog! Very informative. Yummy pics of the Thanksgiving feast. I’ll add a link on our “Dinner Menu” page to your blog for any teens who are concerned about “gluten-free” issues at the Prom. I’m sure your tips will be helpful to them. Interested in writing a article about a “Gluten-Free Prom Dinner”?

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