A moist, juicy roast turkey with crisp skin that produced dripping for a flavorful, rich gravy.
How quickly this year has progressed, here we are marching along to the end of 2015 and Thanksgiving is upon us. For our family, roast turkey is traditionally the main event for Thanksgiving along with all the trimming of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. And, of course, pumpkin pie!
There are so many ideas for preparing ‘the bird’ for roasting and I have tried a few of them. I have brined it, smoked it, roasted it breast side down and roasted it in an oven bag. Mostly, though, I just buy a frozen turkey, stuff it and roast it. Maybe I should try some of the more non-conventional ways to roast Mr. Turkey. How about a sous-vide bird, but I don’t own one of those pricy water cookers. Or, we could do the scalding trick or even deep-fry it or roast it in a brown-paper bag. I have heard of cooking it at 500 degrees for one hour, turn off the oven and leave it there for several hours. Hmmmm….
Usually I buy one of those frozen turkeys that the grocery store offers a great discount for if you spend the magic number of dollars on groceries as advertised. They always tasted just like turkey, sometimes better-sometimes worse.
This year, I bought a fresh turkey for the first time and it had not been injected with fluid. It was more expensive but it also was the moistest, juiciest turkey I think I have ever roasted. I used the drippings for a gravy with some white wine and it produced a rich, dark, flavorful gravy, although there was a lot less of the drippings than I had expected. That may have been because it was a fresh turkey and had not been injected with fluid. I prepared Mr. Turkey by first pre-heating the oven to 425°F but reducied it to 325°F after the turkey had been in the oven for 30 minutes, then continued roasting it for 13 minutes per pound, (a little more than three hours), with a meat thermometer registering 170°F in the thigh and stuffing.
I wanted a crispy skin so reluctantly passed on basting it. By allowing the unwrapped turkey to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to preparing it for roasting, the skin had dried out just enough so it roasted up crisp and tasty. I did cover the breast area half-way through the cooking time to prevent that area from over-browning. And, to keep the skin crisp I did not cover it with aluminum foil while resting because the steam will soften the skin. When we sliced into the turkey breast it was moist, tender and delicious, I will definitely go the ‘fresh’ turkey route again.
I cut some fresh sage from my garden and prepared a sage, lemon and mushroom stuffing. Most of the stuffing went into a baking dish which was baked separately and I just lightly stuffed the back part of the turkey with part of it.
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- 1- 13 to13.5 pound turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme, rosemary or sage
- 1 lemon cut in half
- 1 orange cut in half
- Oven-safe meat thermometer
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Unwrap the turkey and remove the giblet and neck packages from inside and reserve for another use. Rinse inside and outside. Check over the outside and remove any pinfeathers left by the packers. Pat the outside dry with paper towels.
- Season the inside with salt and add herbs and lemons/oranges or, if you are planning to use a dressing, stuff the inside and neck cavity very lightly.
- Place turkey breast side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.
- Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. Brush the skin lightly with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper and thyme over the outside of the turkey. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone.
- Place the turkey in the oven and roast until the skin begins to be brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F. Remove the turkey when the thermometer reads 170°F, (about 3½ hours). Let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes before carving and serving.