Roast Turkey Recipe
Best Method, so Easy!
All you need is time to get this bird just perfect!
We struggle, we baste, we cover, we un-cover, we baste some more... Enough! Here’s the way to get it right every time!
Brine cooking has been around since turkey one. It just makes sense, it’s low tech, tried and true, and it’s easy. What more could you want?
How about the best, moistest, delicate, flavorful turkey you’ve ever had? No problem! Here’s how we do it:
Here is our Complete List of Dinner Party Entrees
This recipe will feed 12 people, and will easily double or more. Read about Party Food Quantities and how to plan for the right amounts.
Roast Turkey Recipe Recipe Shopping List
for 12 People:
___ 16 pound frozen turkey, must not be a “pre-basted” (butterball)
___ 1 gallon vegetable broth, or chicken stock*, or both
___ 1 cup sea salt - no substitute
___ 1 gallon water, or 3/4 gal water and one bottle white wine
___ 5 pounds ice
___ Up to a half cup of your favorite dried spices
___ We add 4 ounces Soy Sauce (but that’s us)
*Professional caterers use “meat first” bases for broths and stocks. (No, we don’t sit around cooking veggies all day...) Check out the variety on Amazon - it’s the same kind we use.
Usually one pound of base will influence 4-5 gallons of water. Once you start using bases, you’ll never go back. And remember - these are not bullion cubes - this is the real deal.
One Week Before the Party:
Get the bird out of the freezer. Don’t take it out of the plastic, leave it in the bag. Put it in a pan, on the lowest part of your refrigerator so that any drippings won’t land on food underneath. Thawing will take 3-4 days.
One Day Before the Party:
Before you get the bird out of the fridge, have a plan for the marinade.
Find a pot big enough to hold the turkey. It needs to be big enough for the turkey and the liquid to completely cover it.
TIP: Don’t have a huge pot? Use a pail, old or new. Paint stores sell them. Wash out an old one real well, and use a plastic bag/liner if you need to.
In another large pot, big enough to hold some of the liquid marinade, combine the stock and stock. Heat this on the stove until the salt dissolves. Allow it to cool completely.
Pour the cooled stock/salt mix into the large pot/pail. Add the remaining ingredients and spices, etc., and half the ice.
Unwrap the turkey in the sink, removing the plastic cover and any organs, wires, etc. Save the organs for your stock or gravy. Wash the bird with cold water.
Carefully lower the bird into the marinade mix, making sure that the marinade gets into the cavity of the turkey. Add the remaining ice and more water if needed to completely cover the bird.
Cover the pot/pail with a lid or foil, and return it to the refrigerator.
It will take 12 hours for the marination to finish. Keep the turkey cold the whole time. The salt creates a reaction to the bird’s meat, causing it to retain it’s natural moisture. The result is a very moist, flavorful bird.
Don’t worry about the salt. Most of it stays in the water. But - don’t use a “flavor” injected, pre-basted bird, like “Butterball,” because they use sodium, and the salt marinade you’re using would be to much.
The Day of the Party:
From the time you put the turkey in the oven, it’s going to be 5 hours or so until you can serve it. Plan.
Time for Stuffing! Pick a good one and stuff that bird. Or not - up to you.
Use a Rack. It really helps to keep the bird out of it’s own fat as it cooks. You can use a rack for other types of poultry and meats too.
This under $20 investment is money well spent.
In a roasting pan, place the turkey on the rack - breast up or down? That depends on who you ask. With breast down, or “upside-down” - the idea is that gravity lets the natural juices flow down to the breastmeat where it is most needed, as it roasts. However, doing it this way may leave rack marks on the breast, which doesn’t help that picture-perfect turkey look you might be looking for. And, many would say that it doesn’t matter one way or the other. FYI, we go breast down when presentation isn’t an issue. Your call.
Water in the pan - not a lot, maybe 1 inch or less. Brush the top of the turkey with oil.
Oven time. 325°f - total of 4+ hours for the 16 pound bird - depends on your oven.
After 2-1/2 hours, remove the turkey and fit some foil shields to the stuffing and the legs - this protects them from drying out. Back to the oven. Don’t keep the turkey out of the oven for more than 3 minutes. Think pit stop.
At 4 hours, open the oven and slide the bird out far enough to read the temperature with your thermometer.
Gotta use a thermometer. Even seasoned chefs can’t tell the internal temps. We carry thermometers in our pockets. (...think of family, sick in the bathroom, vowing never to come to your home again...) Use a thermometer!
You’re looking for 165°f, in several places. Make sure the stem of the thermometer doesn’t touch a bone, or the bottom of the pan.
Up to temperature? Out it comes to rest before serving.
Presentation: Your Eyes Eat First
You will pull the cooked turkey out of the oven about 20 minutes before serving, so it can “stand” or rest. If you don’t, and try to cut it right from the oven, it will fall apart. Give it time.
TIP: Use the turkey’s resting time to bake something else in the oven. If need be, you can cover the turkey with foil and “stall it” for an hour. That way you can use the oven time, like for Stuffing.
It’s up to you. If you brush the skin with oil, and slide the turkey under the broiler for a bit, you’ll get that photogenic turkey we dream about. Or you can butter up the skin and increase the oven temp for the last bit of baking - all in order to get the “look.” But, the more you cook it, the drier it gets.
Or, it is what it is, served on a decorated platter with greens and such.
Or, it’s nicely cut and ready to enjoy.
Gotta have leftover turkey...it’s like a law or something...
Best thing is to get it off the table and back into the fridge as soon as reasonable. The cooked bird will freeze nicely; wrap it tightly with film to enjoy another day.
Our personal favorite is to get the meat off the bones, gather up the leftover stuffing, and build small casseroles. This mix of turkey and stuffing, frozen together in meals for two - great to have in the freezer.
How about some Desserts?
Check out some Appetizers!
Ready for some Dinner and Entrée ideas?
Questions about Roast Turkey Recipe
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