Let’s talk TURKEY.
It may be past the classic Turkey season, also known as thanksgiving, but Christmas is just around the corner and if you have a lot of people to feed, a bone-in Turkey is a great way to feed A LOT of mouths for A LOT less while ALSO getting A LOT of nutrients! Let’s understand why…
- More Micronutrients
- The bone & bone marrow in animals is where you are going to find a larger amount of minerals & trace minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, sodium and calcium- along with other essential nutrients to support a healthy immune system, bone health and so much more.
- Ethical & Sustainable
- Eating the whole animal is without a doubt the most ethical way to consume an animal- and there are A LOT of nutrients in the organs, bones, skin and other parts of the animal that we (sadly) discard so often. Although boneless/skinless meats are more convenient at times, and the organs can seem a little funny to consume, these are the areas that we are going to find some of the most nutrients while also ensuring we are not wasting parts of the animal that can respectfully be used as a whole!
- More Nutrients & Flavour
- Maybe it’s because I was raised by butchers… but I was always taught at a young age to find NOT the leanest cuts but generally, the “fattier” cuts with a little bit of bone in it to ensure the MOST flavour… and of course, nutrients! When you cook meat that still has a bit of bone & fat on it, all of those valuable nutrients and essential fatty acids are leached back into the meat creating a more nutrient-dense meal. This is why slow cooking, braising and cooking meat with more moisture or seasoning can help to increase flavour as well as nutrients. (hence, bone broth!)
- Supports Optimal Gut Health
- Along with all of the valuable micronutrients, animal bones also contain high amounts of collagen, gelatin and glycine- a BIG supportive of gut, joint and skin health. Focusing on healing and repairing our gut lining is essential in supporting our immune function, decreasing overall inflammation and helping to maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal barrier. This is ESSENTIAL for people that suffer from most autoimmunity diseases such as Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease/Syndrome, Skin Inflammation and is why the GAPS (Gut & Psychological Syndrome) protocol is so effective for adults and children with any neurological concerns such as Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia.
- Cost Effective
- On top of all of these beautiful health benefits- it’s also one of the most cost effective ways to buy meat!! Most bone-in meats are less expensive due to it being handled less- meaning you get more bang for your buck, both in your bank account and in your health- ‘bone’-us!! 😉 but aside from that, you get MORE meat and MORE value from using the whole animal as you can use the leftovers to make… leftover meals, gravy, bone broth, gelatin (hello gummy-bears!!) and more! Get creative or just follow the recipes below….
- More Micronutrients
Cooking up a whole chicken.. turkey.. or bone-in roast is one of my favourite ways to meal prep for the week due to its efficiency. Ideally, when making bone broth, it’s best to use pre-roasted bones which is PERFECT after you have roasted the animal! Whereas if you are making bone broth with strictly marrow bones (also incredible), its ideal to roast the bones first which can be considered an extra step. Pre-roasting the animals means you will get A LOT of yummy food for the week to make a variety of meals that are loaded with nutrients in the meat, nutrient-dense meals and you will have one less step when you make bone both– double ‘bone’-us!!
Quick Turkey Tips:
- How much turkey per person?
- Plan on 1.5lbs of (uncooked) turkey per person.
- How long to thaw?
- In a refrigerator set to 40 degrees F or below, it generally takes one day for every 5 pounds to thaw a fully frozen turkey.
- To finish a partially defrosted bird, 30 minutes in cold water may be all you need. If fully frozen, allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw, and change the water every 30 minutes. When thawed this way, you must cook your turkey immediately, and it cannot be refrozen.
- Ideally, order from your local farm ahead of time so that you can pick up a FRESH turkey the day before or the day of so that you can get the turkey in the oven right away and not worry about all of the thawing nonsense!! See my favourite farms here or see my notes below.
- Cooking stuffing:
- Remember to remove the giblet packet and turkey neck to use for gravy and/or bone broth. It’s safer to cook stuffing in a separate baking dish but if in-the-bird is what you prefer, pack it in loosely — it should register at 165 F with a thermometer before serving.
- Taking the turkey’s temperature:
- Use a thermometer to check your turkey’s temp: insert the probe in the deepest part of the bird — it should register at 165 F when ready.
- Resting time:
- Let turkey turkey rest 20 minutes before carving- this allows all the yummy juices & nutrients to soak into the meat.
- How Long to Roast a Turkey:
Low and slow is the way to go! These times are based on roasting a turkey at 325 F – see my notes below
- Unstuffed: 1.5 – 2hrs for every 5lbs of thawed, unstuffed bird.
- Stuffed: 2 – 2.5hrs for every 5lbs of thawed, stuffed bird.
- Frozen: I do not suggest or recommend cooking a turkey when frozen however, it can be considered safe according to some standards. If absolutely necessary, you may cook a partially defrosted turkey but do ensure you are using a low temperature to cook and ALWAYS use a thermometer to check the internal heat before letting it cool.
- How much turkey per person?
- 20lb Turkey rubbed with:
- 2bsp Himalayan or Sea Salt blended with: fresh cracked pepper and fresh & finely diced rosemary, parsley, sage & thyme.
- 1/4 cup melted Butter or Ghee + 1/4 cup chunked
- 1/4 cup melted Coconut Oil + 1/4 cup chunked
- 1 large Onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 a head of Garlic, peeled, pressed and lightly chopped
- 1 whole Lemon – use 1/2 to squeeze and 1/2 to chop/chunk
- 3 Celery, roughly chopped
- 3 large Carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 Apples, de-cored and roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 cup Cranberries (optional
- 1 – 2 cups of Fresh Whole Herbs such as Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme & Sage, roughly chopped (save the stems to stuff into the bird).
- ***save scraps for bone broth!!!***
- 20lb Turkey rubbed with:
- Leftover bones from your roasted turkey
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 4 cloves of garlic, pressed & roughly chopped
- 1 whole lemon, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 /4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/8 cup thyme & rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp quality salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- leftover gravy, veggies and food scraps if available
- 3 tbsp Butter or Ghee
- 3 tbsp GF Flour Blend OR 1 tsp Xanthan gum
- 1 cup Turkey drippings
- 2 cups Bone Broth or turkey stock (yes, you could just use all turkey pan drippings if you have enough!!)
- 2 tbsp minced fresh Herbs of choice
- 2 tbsp minced Garlic
- 2 tbsp Coconut Sugar or maple syrup (optional but highly recommended!)
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. When your turkey is thawed, prepare at room temperature and rub down with dry herbs and seasoning- inside, outside and in-between every crevice!!
- Combine melted butter and coconut oil in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and let soak in melted mixture.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with remaining ingredients (except half of lemon), allowing some to be spread around the turkey in the roasting pan. Save the stems of the herbs to stuff inside of the turkey for extra flavour & nutrients. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (optional but recommended). Fold neck flap under, and secure with toothpicks (remember to take these out before cutting/serving!!).
- Lift cheesecloth out of liquid, leaving it very damp. Spread evenly over the turkey, covering as much as possible. Squeeze lemon juice overtop and all around. Place the leftover lemon peel into the turkey or save for broth.
- Place turkey, legs first if possible, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Baste the cheesecloth and exposed turkey regularly. You may add vegetable stock, water, apple cider vinegar or bone broth to the roasting dish if needed.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to cook for 4hrs, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices. If the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy or basting.
- After this fourth hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Make sure to baste with juices first so that it gently lifts off of the turkey. Rotate roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven if possible. Baste turkey with pan juices. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 – 2 more hours, depending on how hot your oven is, basting every 30 minutes.
- After this fifth – sixth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach a minimum of 165 and the turkey should be golden brown. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven, and cook until your reach the proper internal temperature.
- When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter, and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving. Cover with more lemon, butter and a roasting lid if you have one. If not, tinfoil works well!
- Remove additional fruit/veggies and save to use in stuffing, bone broth or other side dish recipes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. See recipe below.
Place all ingredients into a large stockpot. Cover with filtered water by at least two inches, and then bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and keep at a bare simmer for 4 to 6 hours- the longer the better!!
Toss in more fresh herbs for a stronger flavour and let simmer another 30 minutes before strain the broth.
- Let cool slightly and divide into jars to freeze or store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Adjust seasoning as you like when serving or storing. Broth can be stored for at least 6 months in the freezer. If freezing, allow at least 2 inches of headspace with no lid on. Once frozen, add lid.
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour or xanthan gum and cook for 1 minute until the mixture is golden and starts to thicken. Whisk in turkey drippings & broth. Whisk until well mixed.
- Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring mixture to a rolling boil and then simmer gently until it has thickened slightly, adding more broth or seasoning as needed – careful with xanthin gum, it will continue to thicken!!
- Taste test and add more herbs/seasoning if needed. Simmer for about 10 minutes, gradually adding more stock if the gravy is too thick.
- Once you have found the sweet spot of thinness to thickness as well as flavour, you can serve as is OR add to a blend and blend until smooth.
- Gravy freezes GREAT and is a delicious & nutritious addition to a variety of meals, sauces or bone broth.
- Where do I buy my Turkey & Chicken from? These have been my go-to’s over the years – let me know of any other rad Farmers I can add to the list!
- Turkey tips adapted from https://www.marthastewart.com/353184/perfect-roast-turkey
- Looking for some fun sides? Try a few of these!
- Looking to make a chicken instead? See this Herb Roasted Chicken Recipe!
- Not interested in cooking? Let me do it for you! See how I can help you in the kitchen HERE!
Heidi MacAulay, R.H.N.
“Eat more plants. Do more yoga. Read more books.”
Learn more about me, my credentials or how to work with me here!