Learning to Use Herbs and Spices: Poultry Tips and Recipes

Learning to Use Herbs and Spices: Poultry Tips and Recipes
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chickenSage is the classic poultry herb, both in turkey and chicken. I love using it fresh, but was never much of a fan of dried sage. What I do is freeze whole sage leaves in plastic freezer bags to use during the winter.

I stuff the cavities of chickens and turkey with sage, plus I use lemon balm, rosemary and either basil or oregano with cloves of garlic.

I simply stuff about a cup total of the mixed herbs into the bird cavity and roast till done. I also season the skin with salt (or herb salt), pepper, and paprika. This isn't an exact science. I never seem to use the same combination of herbs or the same amounts when I roast turkey or chicken. I love trying new combinations!

Other herbs that go well with poultry as a general rule are oregano, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, summer savory, tarragon, basil, parsley, saffron, marjoram, mint, sage, and turmeric. As you can see the taste really vary, and by using different combinations your chicken dishes will never be the same.

A basic poultry seasoning can be made by combining:

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried marjoram

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried sage

You can jazz this up by adding a teaspoon or two of a lemon herbs such as lemon thyme, verbena, balm or lemon basil that you've dried. Add the salt and pepper separately when you season the chicken.

The following recipes will give you an idea of how to use herbs with different types of poultry.

Herbed Turkey Breast


1 4 or 5 pound whole bone-in turkey breast

4 fresh sage leaves

4 fresh thyme sprigs

1 tbsp. fresh minced parsley

2 peeled garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the sage, thyme, parsley, and garlic in various places under the skin of the turkey. You can mince everything and combine beforehand if you wish. Season with salt and pepper on the top of the skin. Place in a covered roaster and bake for about 2 1/2 hours or until the turkey juices run clear. You can test the temperature with a meat thermometer too. It should test at least 185 degrees. Let the turkey rest 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Garlic Roasted Chicken


fryer or roaster chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds

one lemon


4 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 sprigs fresh thyme

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup chicken broth

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. dry white wine or herb vinegar

1 tbsp. minced green onion

1 tsp. fresh sage

Preheat oven to 400° F. Remove giblets and neck from inside chicken. Save for broth if desired. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the lemon in half, and wedge the onion. Place these, the herbs and the garlic inside the cavity. Place chicken breast side down onto rack in roasting pan. Roast 30 minutes. Pour one cup broth and lemon juice over the chicken in the roasting pan. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Make a foil tent over chicken or cover with roaster lid and roast about one more hour, basting frequently (or until a meat thermometer reads 185 degrees or more). Allow chicken to rest for 15 minutes. Serve with juices or make gravy.

Herbed Chicken Thighs

Ingredients: 8 chicken thighs 2 tbsp. olive oil 1-1/2 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms 1/4 cup each diced green and red pepper 1/2 stalk diced celery pepper and salt 1 tsp. basil, dried 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced 1 1/2 tsp. seasoned pepper or salt

in a large skillet, brown the chicken thighs in olive oil. Add the broth with the vegetables and herbs. Simmer on medium heat until thighs are done, about 35-40 minutes. Remove the thighs to a platter and thicken sauce to serve with them.

Herb Marinade for Turkey


1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

1/2 cup wine or herb vinegar

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper

Combine the oil, vinegar, herbs and seasonings together in a small bowl. Place the turkey in a large, plastic cooking bag. Add the marinade, close the bag securely and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours. This will work for a 10-12 pound turkey. Roast as usual until turkey tests done. Do not use the marinade for basting until you bring it to a full boil after removing the turkey from the plastic bag.

Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter


2 Rock Cornish game hens

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary

1 tsp fresh minced thyme

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/4 pound butter

5 minced shallots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry the hens. Cut each hen in half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. Melt the butter in small pan and add shallots, rosemary and thyme. Stir well and let cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, then remove. Place the hens in a shallow baking pan, skin side up, and baste with the butter sauce. Roast for 50 minutes, basting every 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Roast Duck


1 (4 to 5-pound) duck

2 cloves garlic, whole, peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 bay leaf

2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large onion, sliced thickly

5 red new potatoes, halved

Remove the neck and giblets from the duck and discard. Rinse duck well inside and out and trim any excess fat. Tuck the wings behind the back and place in a roasting pan. Prick the skin all over with a fork being careful not to pierce the meat, JUST the skin. Rub the legs and breast with the kosher salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Arrange the prepared vegetables and garlic cloves around the duck in the pan, placing a few vegetables beneath the duck to elevate. Season the duck and the vegetables with the pepper and paprika. Place the bay leaf in with the vegetables. Place the pan in the center of the oven and immediately lower the heat to 375°F. Roast duck 45 minutes or until done.

After 15 minutes of cooking, stir vegetables to toss with rendered fat and remove any extra fat from the pan with a spoon. Repeat this step two more times every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the roasted vegetables. Makes 4 servings.



About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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