Recipe: The Enlightened Cook’s Juicy Herbed Turkey

Bonus recipe from The Enlightened Cook by Marlon Braccia.

Kara Rota
2-minute read

The Brine:

10-12 lb turkey

1 1/2 cups kosher salt or 2 cups table salt

1 gallons tap water


Herb Stuffing For Under Skin:

1 large leek

1/2 cup minced, fresh tarragon leaves

1/4 cup whole juniper berries

1/2 cup minced, Italian parsley

2 T freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 T freshly ground, coarse black pepper

2 T oil (coconut, olive, safflower, etc.— any kind)

2 quarts or more water



Stock pot + plastic bag or large container large enough to submerge the entire turkey

4” deep aluminum foil roasting pan

3 extra-long, 100% metal utensils or a silo shaped, poultry-roasting frame

3’ aluminum foil

pepper grinder

sharp chef’s knife

Rinse the turkey inside and out. Remove package of gizzards and neck that may be inside and reserve for turkey gravy. Dissolve salt into enough water, so the turkey can be completely submerged. Use either a 8-quart stock pot with a plastic bag liner or plastic or glass container that will fit in the refrigerator. Place the turkey in the salt water to brine, for 1 day minimum to 3 days maximum.

On the roasting day, discard the brine, rinse the turkey again and drain on a clean cloth. Place a foil container that is at least 5 inches deep on oven’s bottom or bottom wrack if oven is large enough. Pour 4 inches of water into it. Place an oven wrack on the closest track above that pan and grease it with any edible oil. Preheat the oven to 425º.

Rinse and mince the leek, garlic and all herbs and spices. (Remove stems of the fresh tarragon before mincing, Parsley stems remain.) Loosen skin of the turkey on all sides being careful not to tear it. Place the herb mix generously under turkey skin, including all the way into the drumsticks and wings, with a bit inside the cavity, too. Truss the bird with wet, cotton, kitchen twine so the legs and wings are tight against the body. Place roasting frame inside turkey or utensils all the way through the cavity. Place trussed, herb-stuffed turkey, breast side down, directly on the hot wrack. Immediately tent with the aluminum foil sheet, so the top of the turkey does not scorch.

Set timer for 12 minutes per pound (e.g. 10 lb turkey = 120 minutes = exactly 2 hours cooking time) Flip the bird halfway through roasting time. Refill pan with water so at least 2” remains at all times. Remove foil tent 10 minutes before removing from oven to evenly brown the top. Turkey is fully cooked when juices from the crease of the leg run clear. Do not overcook!

For maximum moisture retention, remove turkey from oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before removing legs and wings.  Carve entire breasts out before slicing them agains the grain, on a cutting board.

Note: Modify recipe by substituting any herbs for ones you prefer. Recipe is easily increased for larger turkeys. Simply add more cooking time and more herbs and spices.

Recipes reprinted from The Enlightened Cook. Copyright ©2010 by Marlon Braccia.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.