Even though my family is quite traditional when it comes to our Thanksgiving fare, this was a very welcome change of pace. It’s definitely still a classic turkey, with crisp mahogany skin and tender meat, but thanks to the seasoning rub it has a little Southern flair!
Cajun Roasted Turkey: A twist on the classic roast turkey; tender meat and crispy skin with those great Cajun seasonings.Tweet This
Southern Style Roast Turkey
Don’t just think of this for Thanksgiving! It would make a terrific centerpiece to any big gathering, especially a Southern-style meal. I know we would be delighted to see it paired up with collard greens, roasted sweet potatoes and some grits. And leftovers make the most amazing sandwiches, so please make sure they turkey you prepare is bigger than you need so you have the opportunity to enjoy it again later in the week. The amount of rub is designed for a 12-pound turkey, but unless your turkey is significantly bigger it should be sufficient. If your turkey is 18 pounds or more, make another half recipe of the Cajun butter blend.
I might also add some of the leftovers to a Cajun jambalaya.
Best Rub for Cajun Turkey
This rub has just the right amount of heat and herb and spice balance. It’s not too spicy, but there is no question that you are eating a Cajun style roast turkey! What this flavorful rub also offers is the ability to skip injecting the bird with some sort of brine or seasoned fluid, which is not something many of us are comfortable with. I am much happier making my own rub, and knowing what each and every ingredient is in the seasoning.
Ingredients for Cajun Rub for Turkey
The Cajun turkey rub contains, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Use sweet or regular paprika, not hot or smoked, or the flavor will be too overpowering. The mixture is blended into some softened butter, and then that mixture is rubbed all over the turkey.
The rub might clump up a bit as the bird cooks. You can take a basting brush dipped in olive oil to smooth out the rub over the skin towards the end of the roasting process, or as you take it from the oven.
What to Serve with Cajun Turkey:
- Creamed Pearl Onions
- Dirty Rice
- Cranberry Sauce
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Mashed Potatoes
- Cornbread Dressing
- Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- How to Brine a Turkey Breast
- How to Carve a Turkey
- How to Safely Defrost Turkey
- How to Freeze and Defrost Leftover Turkey
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Cajun Roasted Turkey
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 12-pound turkey , preferably fresh, defrosted if frozen, giblets and neck removed and reserved for another use (see gravy!)
- 1 orange , halved
- 2 medium yellow onions , peeled and halved
- 1 cup white wine (optional)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, black pepper and cayenne. Use a fork to squish in the softened butter and oil until completely blended.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Rub the seasoned butter all over the bird, legs, thighs, breasts, everywhere. Carefully lift the skin where possible and work some of the butter underneath the skin. Aldo rub some inside the cavity of the bird. Place the turkey into a large plastic bag, preferably a sealable one, press out the air, and seal it tight. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side up in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- After a day, and 1 day before Thanksgiving, remove the bird from the fridge and take it out of the plastic bag. Do not rinse the bird. Place the turkey in a rack in the roasting pan or on a plate, and refrigerate uncovered, for another 24 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven, and make sure you raise or remove the upper racks so the turkey can fit with room to spare on top.
- Place the orange and onions halves into the cavity of the bird. Tuck the wings behind the back of the bird and place it in a rack in a roasting pan breast side up. Tie the legs closed (some birds have a cool little plastic gadget that hold the legs together, which will keep the cavity closed). Make sure the turkey is breast side up in the rack in the roasting pan, and place the pan into the oven.
- Pour the wine and chicken broth into the pan around the turkey. Place the pan in the oven. After one hour, baste the bird with the juices from the bottom of the pan. Baste every 30 minutes from here on out until the turkey is almost done – then stop, to maintain the crispy skin.
- Start checking after 2 hours with an internal thermometer, sticking it into the deepest part of the thigh, and making sure that it does not touch bone. The internal temperature should be 165 F. If as the turkey is cooking the top starts to get too browned just tent a large piece of tin foil over the top of the bird.
- When the turkey is finished cooking remove it to a cutting board with a moat, tipping any juices that have accumulated in the turkey back into the roasting pan. Let the turkey sit, tented with foil, for at least 20 minutes.
- While the turkey is resting, pour all of the liquid from the roasting pan into a large measuring cup. Put it into the fridge and when the fat has risen to the top, use a spoon to scrape off the fat and discard. You also can use a fat separator for this purpose. Click here for how to make gravy if you like, but know that you will have a Cajun style gravy to go with your Cajun style turkey!
- Carve the turkey and serve.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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