Thanksgiving is a joyful time of year, but it can also be very stressful if you are delegated the daunting task of cooking the turkey for the big dinner! Expectations are high when roasting any large piece of meat on a holiday, but the truth is that roasting America’s favorite bird is fairly easy. Here are some simple steps you can follow to assure that your turkey comes out even better than you imagined.
The first important step is buying your bird in advance because most turkeys are shipped fully frozen to your local grocery store. Properly thawing your turkey will ensure that your gobbler will cook evenly (and not be frozen in the middle!). We have all heard horror stories of people who roasted their turkey in the oven all day long, only to find that the center was still raw! A medium-sized turkey must thaw in the refrigerator for several days to be completely thawed and prepared for roasting.
Preventing your turkey from drying out is also important for optimum flavor. This can be done by cooking the turkey in a roasting bag or by basting the turkey in its own juices. Basting your turkey while cooking will give your bird a golden brown color and will also help keep the meat moist.
The last and probably most important tip is proper seasoning. Before seasoning, you must remove all the insides of the bird, like the giblets and the neck. Be sure to reach far into all cavities of the bird to remove the innards and clean it well. Pat the outside and inside of the turkey with clean paper towels until it is dry. Season the inner cavity of the bird as well as the outer skin and extremities with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then, you can stuff your bird with flavorful items such as onions, celery, carrots, herbs and lemons. Your own unique combination of herbs and seasonings will make a delicious and flavorful turkey for your Thanksgiving table!
The Best Roasted Turkey Recipe
- 12-lb. turkey
- 2 medium sized onions, quartered
- 4 celery ribs, cut into thirds
- 3 carrots, cut into thirds
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 garlic bulb, halved
- Melted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Remove all extra items from the inner cavity of your fully thawed turkey. Sprinkle inner cavity of bird generously with salt and pepper. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs. Be careful not to overstuff as this will distort cooking times.
- Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Dry turkey off and season again with salt and pepper. Brush the exterior of the turnkey with melted butter. Tent the turkey with aluminum foil or the lid of roaster to keep in moisture and allow the bird to cook evenly. Roast for two hours.
- Remove the lid/foil and raise temperature of oven to 425 degrees for the final cooking. Baste again with melted butter. Return the turkey to the oven for one hour or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh of the turkey registers 165 degrees.
- Remove turkey from oven but keep covered until it is ready to be sliced. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
*For every extra pound of turkey add another 15 minutes to the initial 2-hour roasting time at 325 degrees.