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Turkey 101

Chef Garth Blackburn Takes The Intimidation Out of Turkey Preparation

Article by Stephanie Hasbrouck

Photography by Dawn Michelle Photography

Originally published in Cross Timbers Lifestyle

Ah, Thanksgiving  –  the loveliest day, where family and friends gather together to reminisce and enjoy a bountiful feast. But for the one preparing said feast, it can be a most stressful occasion – especially when it comes to preparing the ever-intimidating turkey.

Local Chef Garth Blackburn says cooking the turkey is daunting because most only do it once or twice a year.

“Think about it: Nearly every other thing we cook, we do multiple times a year or even multiple times a month. We learn our strategies. Turkey? Whoa, let’s hit Google the day before Thanksgiving and start from scratch all over again,” he says.  

To avoid turkey-day anxiety, Garth suggests preparing as much as possible ahead of time.

“Plan a little! Have the bird thawed. Have your ingredients ready. Chefs call this mis en place – everything in its place,” he says. “Basically, take charge of the things you can control, so you’re only stressed on the things you can’t control – i.e. when the turkey will be done and how do we get grandpa to stop drinking all the wine.”

So this year, forget Google and the turkey hotline. Instead, eliminate turkey-prep woes by following Garth’s simple step-by-step tutorial, and enjoy the day!


15 pound turkey, thawed and dried thoroughly

¼ cup mixed fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, etc.)

Salt and pepper

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 head celery, trimmed from stem

6 large carrots, peeled

1 large sweet onion, rough chopped

1 Honeycrisp or similar apple, rough chopped

2 cups turkey or chicken stock

1 cup mushroom stock (optional or use more turkey stock)

Additional herbs

Optional: 1.5 oz  classic Roasted turkey stock paste from More Than Gourmet

Step 1
Spatchcock / butterfly the turkey by cutting both sides of backbone with a serrated knife or large scissors; then turn the turkey over and press flat.

Step 2

Mix the softened butter with garlic, chopped herbs and salt and spread mixture under the turkey skin. Sprinkle the outside of the skin with additional salt.

Step 3

Place vegetables in a roasting pan and season with herbs, stock and paste. Lay the turkey, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and rub or brush olive oil over the outside of the skin.

Step 4

Cook for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees - until the turkey starts to brown. Then reduce heat to 325 degrees on convection or 350 degrees on bake. Cook until the breast meat is 160 degrees, and dark meat is 165 degrees.

Step 5

Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Serve with vegetables or make gravy with the veggies and additional stock.

Garth Blackburn and Amy Kushnir are co-creators of Uptown Farmhouse, a unique seasonal dining experience. The two also host a popular cooking club, which offers live cooking classes, tips tricks and culinary techniques. For more information, follow Uptown Farmhouse on Facebook and Instagram, or email Amy,

Tip: Spatchcocking, or butterflying, the turkey allows all of the skin to crisp beautifully, the meat to steam deliciously from the pan juices and the bird to cook in a fraction of the time. If you are unsure how to do it yourself, ask your butcher to do it.