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Seriously Simple: No-fail turkey makes for easy holiday entertaining

By Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

I have roasted turkeys whole, butterflied and in pieces. However, sometimes I am pressed for time. But I still want traditional turkey for our holiday table. This year, why not try a cut up-turkey for faster cooking time? This recipe has been in my friend Janice Wald Henderson's family for year, and she describes this as her no-fail turkey recipe. After trying it, I couldn't agree more. The sauce is easy to prepare, and the best part for those of us who are carving challenged is that the pieces are already cut up, except for the breast. The key to its delicious moistness is that she bastes it every 45 minutes.

The orange basting sauce, highlighted with orange liqueur, is a cinch to put together and adds a delicious citrus flavor to the turkey. I like to make this not only for Thanksgiving but any time during the holiday season. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite green vegetable (roasted Brussels sprouts are a wonderful addition). What to drink? You have plenty of choices. The orange and herb flavors call for a fresh, un-oaked chardonnay or viognier, or try a young, zesty, dry to slightly sweet riesling. If you prefer a red, try a soft, bright, grenache.

Turkey with Orange-Herb Basting Sauce

Serves 6 to 10

For the basting sauce:

1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate

1/4 cup orange liqueur such as Cointreau

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, and thyme

Seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the turkey:

1 (3-pound) whole turkey breast

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2 (1-pound) turkey thighs

2 (1-pound) drumsticks

Seasoning salt

1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth or turkey stock

Orange slices and parsley or watercress, for garnish

1. To make the basting sauce, in a glass measuring cup, combine the orange juice concentrate, liqueur and butter, and microwave for 1 minute, or until all of the ingredients are liquid. Or heat in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Arrange the turkey parts in a shallow roasting pan, placing the breast skin side up. Pour the basting sauce over the turkey and turn each piece with tongs to coat it evenly. Sprinkle a little salt on each piece. Pour 1/2 cup of the broth around the pan.

3. Roast, basting every 45 minutes and turning the legs, until the pieces are cooked through, brown, and crispy. You will need to add more broth as the pan gets brown and dry, so watch carefully. Total cooking time is 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours. The breast may be done sooner. It should read 160 F on an instant-read thermometer. The dark-meat parts should register 175 F. Transfer the turkey breast to a carving board and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Arrange the other pieces on a platter. Carve the breast and arrange on the platter. Cover loosely with foil.

4. While the turkey is resting, place the roasting pan over medium-high heat, add 1 cup of the broth and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Pour over the turkey. Garnish the platter with orange slices and parsley. Serve immediately.

Advance Preparation: Make up to 1 hour ahead through Step 3, loosely cover, and keep at room temperature.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at


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