Turkey – All-Natural Free-Range

I am very lucky to have a wonderful free-range turkey farm less than 10 miles from my house – TA Farms.  It has taken some adjustment to cooking these birds, and I am still figuring out the best approach.  Last year I tried a form of dry brining suggested Ina Garten in her “Accidental Turkey”.  It was the best turkey I ever made, so I highly recommend it!

I arrived at the turkey farm just as the sun was setting on Tuesday night; what a beautiful way to start Thanksgiving!

To my surprise, and some dismay, I ended up with a 19.57 pound bird!  I have never cooked a turkey that big, so I was quite nervous as I started the process and adjusting for the large size of my bird.  It threw my whole time planning for Thursday into disarray.  The name “Accidental Turkey” really started to apply.  I also started hoping for more people to show up and eat all this turkey with us!

Once I made it and it turned out so delicious, I was glad for all the leftovers!

Accidental Turkey

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe due to accommodate the large bird

16-20 lb free-range, all-natural turkey

4 Tbsp Kosher salt

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (from the garden)

Zest from 1 lemon

1 onion, cut in eigths

8 sprigs of fresh thyme (from the garden)

1 lemon, cut in quarters

5 Tbsp butter, melted


Wash the turkey, inside and out, dry well with paper towels. Place in a shallow dish to catch drippings (I used the roasting pan).

Mix together the salt, rosemary and lemon zest. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the mixture into the cavity of the bird.  Rub the rest all over the outside of the turkey, getting under the legs and wings.   Then wrap the turkey and pan tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

Remove from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Return to the fridge for another day.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Place the turkey in the roasting pan, stuff the onion, lemon and thyme into the cavity.  Brush with melted butter. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.

Brush the turkey with the butter in the pan and reduce heat to 325F.  Cook until the turkey is fully cooked, brushing with butter/pan juices every 15 minutes (the 19.5 Lb bird took 3 3/4 hours overall)

Remove from the oven and let the turkey rest for 1/2 hour.

Carve, serve and enjoy!


Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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