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Ruth's Thanksgiving Turkey

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Ruth Flaherty is one of our most beloved Cookbook Club members and is a go-to in our community for delicious, "from scratch" recipes. She has shared her Thanksgiving Turkey recipe with us - just in time for the season!

One of my family’s favorite combinations is tomatoes and thyme, and I wanted to let that shine this holiday season. And, the garlic and maple give this Turkey a special touch of sweetness and balance.

The size of your 99 Counties bird determines how long you need to defrost.

A guideline: 24 hours for each 5 pounds

10-12 lb. 2 days

12-14 lb. 2 ½ days

14-16 lb. 3 days

16-18 lb. 3 ½ - 4 days


A brine is optional, but provides so much flavor.

24 hours before cooking day. Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups water

  • 1 Cup sea salt

  • 10 garlic cloves

  • 10 bay leaves

  • 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • Additional One Gallon of water (enough water to completely submerge turkey)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil, make sure salt is dissolved and let it cool completely before adding to brine bag / raw turkey.

Place the turkey in a brine bag on a cookie sheet and add mixture from saucepan and enough water to fully submerged the bird. Make sure most all the air is out of the bag and refrigerate breast side down until cooking day. Brine at least 8 hours for up to 48 hours for best results.

Compound Butter

  • 1 stick unsalted - room temperature

  • 5 garlic cloves - minced

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 whole package of fresh thyme - leaves picked of stems

  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 Teaspoons maple sugar

In a bowl combine all ingredients- soft butter, salt, minced garlic, leaves of thyme, tomato paste, and maple sugar.

Mix together until fully incorporated. Set aside until step 5 during Cooking Day.

Additional ingredients for the Turkey:

  • large tomato

  • 1 more package of fresh thyme (with stems) for turkey cavity

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar for pan sauce

  • ½ cup white cooking wine

Cooking Day

  1. Make compound butter (ingredients above)

  2. First, preheat the oven at 500 degrees.

  3. Remove your 99 Counties bird from packaging (or brine) and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

  4. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

  5. Apply butter inside the cavity and under the skin of the whole bird. Place the whole tomato and more fresh thyme into the turkey's cavity. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with compound butter. If your oven has a probe thermometer this is the perfect time to use it. IInsert the thermometer into the thickest portion of the turkey breast. Make sure the thermometer does not touch bone, gristle or the pan. Set the thermometer alarm to 161 degrees F. (if available)

  6. Cook the bird for 30 min at 500 degrees

  7. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees ​. If the breast got dark in these 30 min you can cover it with foil to keep the bird from getting too dark. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. After 2 ½ hours remove from the oven and make sure to check the temperature turkey legs, breast and wings are at/above 165 degrees F.

  8. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil 15 minutes before carving.

Pan Sauce

All the butter and turkey juices in the roasting pan will make a delicious sauce.

  1. Carefully (the roasting pan will be hot) pour juices into the saucepan and simmer with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and ½ c white wine for 10 minutes.

  2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any thyme leaves or other bits from the pan, and serve with turkey.

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