Craving for a moist, succulent piece of turkey breast? Do you want to sink your teeth into a perfectly cooked and seasoned turkey drumstick? Either way, roasting a turkey isn't difficult.
(optional) Broth (vegetable or chicken)
1/2 of a large red onion
2-4 garlic cloves
Roasting pan with rack
(Optional) Roasting bag
Poultry thermometer (meat thermometer)
Thaw. This can be done one of two ways:
Place the turkey still in its wrapper on a large tray such as a cookie sheet to catch any juices on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Allow one day per four to five pounds of turkey.(Buy a 20 pound turkey on Saturday to ensure it will be ready to cook Thanksgiving morning); or
Place the turkey still in its wrapper in the sink. Cover with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes per pound (a 20 pound Turkey will take 10 hours to thaw). Cook immediately. The USDA also provides the following information on how to defrost a turkey safely.
Preheat oven to 325° F
Remove giblets Stick your hand in the cavity and remove any organs, or "things" you may find inside of the bird that may or may not be wrapped in something. If desired save everything but the liver for giblet gravy.
Wash the turkey. Hold the turkey under room temperature or cold water and rub it gently with your fingers. Make sure there isn't any dirt, pieces of feathers, etc.
Pat dry. Use a paper towel to pat it dry; don't rub it.
Place turkey in roasting pan. Always cook breast side up. Try to keep it centered; this will promote even heating. If using a roasting bag, do the following steps first, put it in the bag, then put in Roasting pan.
Oil Spread a tablespoon or two of oil over the skin of the turkey. This will help brown the turkey nicely.
Season your turkey. Sprinkle oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, and/or pepper lightly over the top of the turkey. Put some on the inside as well.
Flavor Quarter the onion and put it all inside the turkey. Put the three garlic cloves in with the onion. Make sure that both are peeled. After this is done, pour in broth until it is surrounding the turkey (about 1 cup). Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh making sure it does not touch the bone.
Roast the turkey. Place turkey in oven (bottom rack) and until meat is 165°F (about 15 minutes per pound). If you are using a roasting bag, shake a turkey size oven bag with 1 tablespoon of flour. Place the bag on the roast pan. Slide the turkey breast side up, in the bag. Twist tie shut. Cut slits in the bag. Do not add any broth. Make sure the bag isn't hanging over the edge.
Make it golden by turning your oven onto "Broil" for ten minutes. Make sure to keep a close watch on it during this time as ovens vary and Broil is a very high temperature. If you are using a roasting bag, open the top completely before broiling.
Let it rest Remove the turkey from the juices and place on a cutting board. Remove any stuffing. Loosely cover with tinfoil and wait 20 minutes before slicing to prevent the turkey from losing all of its juices. Use this time to make gravy.
Instead of putting onions and garlic in the turkey, you can fill it with stuffing.
Use leftover giblets (excluding the liver)and the liquid left in the roasting pan to make giblet gravy.
A variation on this method would be to sear the turkey in the beginning of the cooking process, thereby sealing in the fat of the skin and juices of the meat. Preheat oven to 450 degree F. When oven is ready cook turkey at 450 for 30 minutes. After the thirty minutes have expired - cover breast with foil and cook at 350 degree F until done (internal temperature of 165 degrees).
Try rubbing an herbed butter or herbed olive oil mixture between skin and meat and on the outside.
Basted often with drippings.
USDA turkey roasting times are listed below. The roasting times are for a unstuffed turkey baked at 325 degrees F.
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours
Watch meat while broiling. The broiler on most ovens can burn food in a very short time.
Cooking stuffing in the turkey is NOT recommended due to concern for salmonella and other bacterial contaminants that thrive in warm, moist conditions.