Thanksgiving Dinner – Part I – The Turkey

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving.  Yet another successful Thanksgiving has come and gone, and is now in the history books.  There were eleven of us all gathered together to celebrate my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  It was my husband and myself and my “sister”, her husband and all seven of their kids.  We had a full house, a full table, and at the end of the evening, full tummies as well.  We basically had two full Thanksgiving meals combined into one.  My “sister’s” husband, my husband and I all had the traditional Thanksgiving fair, complete with turkey, stuffing and all the fixin’s.  My sister and all of her kids, however, are vegan, so they had their own version of Thanksgiving dinner, complete with tofurkey (NO, I DID NOT make the tofurkey.  I hate the stuff.  We bought it and cooked it according to the package directions), and plenty of vegetables and potatoes to go around for all of us.  And of course, there were lots of desserts as well, both vegan and non-vegan.  It does not really matter so much what is on the table to be served, but rather who is at the table to be served that makes the meal and the day so special.


I had a 16 3/4 lb turkey, which was more than enough for the three of us who were eating it.



I made a juniper brine that I poured over the turkey and let set in the refrigerator for about 1 1/2 days before cooking the turkey.



Juniper Brine

2/3 cup salt

2/3 cup sugar

6-10 whole cloves

1 tsp juniper berries, crushed

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp allspice

1-2 tsp fresh sage, chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2-3 bay leaves

8 cups hot water

4 cups cold water

1 plastic turkey brining bag

large pan to hold the turkey


With the back of a small skillet, crush the whole peppercorns and the juniper berries by basically smashing them with the back of the skillet and then firmly pressing them until they crack.  This only takes a few seconds.  Mix all the ingredients together in the hot water in a large pot.  Boil for 3 minutes, or until all the sugar and salt have completely dissolved.  Add the cold water and cool to room temperature.  Place the turkey into the brining bag and pour the whole contents of the liquid into and all around the turkey.  Place the bag with the turkey breast side down into a large roasting pan and loosely cover.  Let it set in the refrigerator anywhere from 12-36 hours before cooking.

Once the turkey is ready to cook, empty the liquid and discard the bag and all its contents.  Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.  Gently separate the skin from the meat, by working your hands gently under the skin.


With whatever rub you decide to use, generously rub the whole inside of the turkey, underneath the skin with the rub.  Spread it evenly over all the meat of the turkey.

This year, I decided to make a Cajun turkey and I made a Cajun rub.


Cajun Rub

I stick butter, softened

1 TBSP garlic

1-2 tsp each sage, oregano, thyme, and marjoram

1 TBSP Cajun spice mix

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

1-2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 500* F

Mix everything to together and rub generously over the meat, in between the meat and the skin of the turkey.   Generously coat the turkey’s outside with salt, pepper and olive oil .  Then place it back into the roasting pan, breast side down.

Place the turkey in the pre-heated oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes at 500* F.  Then turn the heat down to 350* F.  Continue to cook the turkey for about another 30 minutes or so, breast down, then carefully flip the turkey over to continue cooking, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 160-165*F or until the juice comes out clear.   The time will vary according to the size of the turkey.  Usually allow for about 15 minutes per pound.  I had a 16 3/4 lb turkey, so I roasted it for about 3 1/2 hours.  While the turkey is cooking, baste it occasionally with the juices to keep it moist.  Let the turkey rest at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before starting to carve it.


This post is one of a small series of posts regarding Thanksgiving.  Please stay tuned.  there was a lot more to eat than just turkey, although the turkey came out great.



Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Dinner – Part I – The Turkey”

  1. My husband makes the turkey in our home.. the same recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the same recipe passed down to him. I always hint that maybe we should try another recipe but I’m not very convincing… I’ll need to show your recipe, that should help!

    Liked by 1 person

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