Thanksgiving Bliss in The Netherlands with Easy Turkey Recipe

First of, Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians home and abroad!  Although this year is my fifth Thanksgiving away from home and I am very thankful that I still had a proper poultry feast with my second family this weekend.  Actually, three years ago I introduced the Thanksgiving dinner to my boyfriend’s family and they loved it so much it is properly a thing now.  So every October, we have an event called kalkoen (which is Dutch for turkey), not Thanksgiving, just turkey… haha.

Anyway, in The Netherlands usually you would only come across turkey in the sandwich meat section in the supermarket, and if you want a proper full turkey for roasting you have to pre-order it at the special poultry shop.  Before cooking for my in-laws I’ve never roasted a turkey before, so you can imagine the pressure… but I followed the can-do attitude and I’m definitely thankful that I have found a

super easy, manageable recipe that comes with smashing results 🙂   !!!

I found this recipe on the internet a few years back and again I am super thankful that I have scribbled it down (because it doesn’t come up in my google results anymore even with the search terms from the recipe?!).  What I love about this recipe is that it has

no complicated steps and the turkey really does not dry out.

Okay, STEP 1 – Night before Thanksgiving Dinner – Cleaning!

You need to clean the turkey the night before.  The first time I did this it was hilarious… On my own I could not even hold and lift the turkey to be washed, so my boyfriend had to help me.  It was like washing a baby in sink.  So anyway, wash the turkey, make sure it’s cleaned inside out.  After that I usually stuff the cavity with paper towels to help soak up all the water, then turn the turkey so that it’s “sitting up right”, which also helps with getting all the water out.  Put cling film over the bird, leave it in the fridge overnight.

STEP 2 – Day of Thanksgiving Dinner – Prepping before the oven

This is the actual recipe, so listen up:


Well obviously you will need a turkey, and then:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package of thyme leaves (you will need at least 8 springs)
  • 1 package of sage (you will need at least 2 sprigs)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • Bacon strips (enough to cover the entire turkey)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional 1: Other herbs such as basil and rosemary; 1 extra orange for stuffing;
  • Optional2:  Roasting vegetables: celery, carrots, mushrooms, onions; chicken stock
  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter (113grams) and add 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves, the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of that lemon to it.  Set aside the lemon hulls for later use.  ** I cheated and just got kruidenboter (flavoured herb butter, which is similar to garlic butter spread).
  3. Salt the inside cavity of the turkey generously.  Place the leftover lemon hulls into the cavity of the the turkey, one quartered onion, slightly crushed cloves of garlic (1 head in total), 6 springs of thyme, 2 springs sage, and another halved lemon.  ** I also added another quartered orange (I think this was  recommended from another recipe) 
  4. Place the bird on the roasting rack and brush with the prepared butter mix until you have used it all.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper (** why not add everything you can find in your spice cabinet?  I went wild with  basil, rosemary, and the leftover sage and thyme)
  5. Coat with bacon strips!  Loosely make an aluminium tent over the turkey!!  ** These are important steps to prevent the turkey from over drying!  *** The internal temperature of the turkey also needs to be at least 77 degrees Celsius in the thigh,  
  6. Pour 2-3 cups of chicken stock into the roasting pan with vegetables.  ** This is a side thing I did… the vegetables will be sinfully tasty being roasted under the drippings of the turkey.  I chopped up celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions to be roasted.  The amount of chicken stock actually depends on how deep the roasting pan is, I would make sure to add enough to cover all the veggies otherwise they will burn.  I also used a few dashes of white wine.  
  7. Well, pop the bird in the oven, and the roast time should differ based on the weight.

STEP 3 – Day of Thanksgiving Dinner – Patiently wait before the oven

With the aroma of a roasting turkey in the oven the entire day it’s hard to be patient.  Well our turkey was about 4.4 kg and it took about 4 hours to finish cooking.  Like mentioned earlier, I made sure to check that the internal temperature reached 77 degrees.  At one point I checked, it was 90 degrees, which also made me realize that my vegetables started to burn.  I quickly took out the roasting pan and only put it back in the last 15 minutes.  So while you are patiently waiting for the bird to cook, it’s okay to have wine but also make sure you’re still keeping an eye on it so nothing burns.  You can of course intermittently reward yourself with some crispy bacon in “second half” if you really cannot resist.

I unfortunately in the last 3 years have never managed to take a photo of the bird because as soon as it is out of the oven it’s immediately cut up and served.  Nobody wants to be waiting anymore.  But I do have some proof that I have tested this recipe out myself 😉


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