One of my favorite ways to preserve my summer garden herbs is in a compound butter. These butters will keep in the freezer throughout the winter and into the spring (that is, if you don’t eat them before spring!).
My sage plant was incredible this year! I didn’t think it was coming back at all and suddenly mid-July, it starting growing again and it produced way more than we could eat this summer and it is still going strong. Just look at how beautiful and vibrant these leaves are!
I created this butter as the building block of flavor for our Thanksgiving Turkey and Turkey Gravy. We bought an organic heritage breed turkey from Miller’s Organic Farm and while these turkeys are incredibly flavorful, they also need some special treatment in order to keep them juicy. Unlike the commercial turkeys you get at the grocery store, these birds have lived outside, in pastures, eating bugs and working their muscles. They do not contain a huge amount of fat and they are definitely not injected with any sort of salt solution to plump up the breast meat. So, you need to add salt and fat under the skin of the bird and cook it “gently”. Many people would swear by brining, and I don’t disagree, but dealing with brining was not on our list of what we wanted to do for our very relaxed Thanksgiving this year. Instead, we treated the bird as we do chicken almost once a week by putting butter, herbs, citrus zest and garlic under the skin and inside. It turned out so well, we won’t ever brine again!
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we removed the turkey from it’s packaging and cleaned it. We had to cut the neck off and remove the liver from the inside, but there were not other giblets inside. It wasn’t a daunting job at all. We put the neck in a stock pot for broth. Click here for our broth recipe.
Then we loosened the skin around the breast, legs and thighs, being very careful not to tear the skin at all. We then sprinkled sea salt under the breast skin and inside the bird and let it sit at room temperature while preparing the sage butter. Then we rubbed the compound butter under the skin on both the breast and the leg and thigh and inside the bird. We put the turkey on a rack in our old enameled turkey roaster and set in the fridge uncovered until Turkey Day.
Sage & Citrus Butter
Makes 1/2 cup
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (I like Organic Valley)
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp minced fresh sage
2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp- I used Majestic Porcelain from Squared Roots Farm)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl. You can use the compound butter right away or you can roll the mixture into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until solid. Once it is firm, remove the plastic wrap and slice it into 1 Tbsp discs. Lay the discs in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with wax paper and freeze the pieces individually. Once they are frozen, put them in a ziplock freezer bag and use as needed.