Mother Earth Living

A Twist on the Traditional Thanksgiving Menu: Herb-Roasted Turkey with Apples and Oranges

By Lucinda Hutson
October/November 1998
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I use lots of herbs and other ingredients to flavor a turkey inside and out; then I make a cornbread dressing to cook separately and serve as a side dish. Follow this roast turkey recipe but stuff it with the cornbread stuffing if you prefer.  

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Apples and Oranges


•1 twelve-pound turkey, fresh or frozen, thawed in the refrigerator
•4 to 6 tablespoons butter, softened
•1 tablespoon salt
•1 tablespoon ground coriander
•2 tablespoons paprika
•1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
•4 small oranges, sliced
•1 lemon, sliced
•1 green apple, sliced
•3 generous handfuls of fresh herbs such as Mexican mint marigold, oregano, thyme, sage, pineapple sage, lemon verbena and rosemary
•1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
•1/2 pound pearl onions
•2 white onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges
•2 cups or more giblet or other flavorful broth

1. Rinse the turkey and pat dry. With your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breast.

2. Rub butter under the skin, inside the breast and neck cavities, and on the skin.

3. Combine the salt and spices. Sprinkle some of the mixture into the cavities, reserving the rest.

4. Stuff as many of the orange, lemon, and apple slices, herbs, red onion and pearl onions as will fit into the cavities and under the skin.

5. Sprinkle the skin with the reserved spice mixture.

6. Tie the legs of the turkey and place it, breast side up, on a rack in a large, foil-lined roasting pan; surround it with the remaining orange slices, white onion wedges, pearl onions and giblet broth.

Roast the Turkey

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Plan on 4 hours of roasting time for a 12-pound turkey but double-check doneness with a meat thermometer. As the pop-up thermometers provided in some turkeys are not always accurate, insert your own meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast, not touching bone.

2. Cover the turkey loosely with foil and place it in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 325°F.

3. After 1 hour, baste the turkey with the pan juices. Continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown.

4. Remove the foil for the final 20 minutes of roasting and raise the temperature to 350°F; baste frequently. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 175°F, in the breast, 160°F; the juices should run clear.

5. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

6. Place the turkey on a platter and garnish it generously with fresh herbs, blossoms of mint marigold, pineapple sage and other salvias, and crab apples, cranberries, kumquats, small clusters of grapes and slices of lemon or orange.

Check out the original article, A Twist on the Traditional Thanksgiving Menu.

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