Monday, November 24, 2014

Classic Roast Turkey

Turkey day is almost upon us...

And I have an absolutely stellar recipe just for the occasion!! You and your loved ones are going to be in turkey-tryptophan heaven.

I love this Classic Roast Turkey Recipe for a few reasons:

1. It's not fussy

2. You probably have all the ingredients on hand

3. The results are beautiful...

4... Not to mention delicious

5. As roast turkey recipes go, it's SUPER EASY

Now, if you are looking for a recipe that bakes the stuffing inside the bird, or has all sorts of "aromatics" involved, or that gets super technical in the thawing/brining/roast set-up/timing in the oven... this isn't it.

Those recipes are great too. In fact, it wasn't that long ago I had a honey-roasted turkey that was all kinds of yummy. 

But I thought I'd throw out "the easy-going" recipe... The recipe, that, while plain to look at, yielded fantastic results all the same. If you scroll down and the directions look "too long," I promise it's not. I was in explanatory mode so that you'd understand the reasons for the cooking techniques. 

I've tried to break this down to make roasting your turkey as non-stressful, and easy as possible. The ingredients as simple: butter, salt, pepper, and a couple of dried herbs (that really, could be optional).

So, if easy, and non-fussy sound good to you... I've got just the thing:

Classic Roast Turkey 

(Notes: This recipe is about as non-fussy as they come. It will result in a crispy-skinned turkey. Using a shallow baking pan instead of a roasting pan or other deep dish allows for more air circulation, and better skin-crisping. If, however, you don't care about the state of the skin, go ahead with your roasting pan.)

12 lb. whole turkey
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

*opt. 1 cup chicken or turkey stock during roasting

Options for thawing:
     1. Put the frozen bird on a plate of in a large bowl in the fridge for 3 days (12 lbs. and under) or 4-   5 days for heavier.
     2. Put the frozen turkey in a cool water bath, changing the water every so often for 30 minutes per each pound of turkey.

When you are ready to roast:
Place oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a cookie sheet, or other shallow pan and a roasting rack with non-stick spray. *If you do NOT have a roasting rack, you can still roast the turkey! You can wad up a bunch of tin foil to let the turkey rest on, sot hat air can still get underneath the turkey. If you do this, the bottom skin will not be as crispy... but that's really not a big deal unless you are a "skin lover," and HAVE to have crispy skin all over.

You will be looking for two packets: The gravy and the giblets. The gravy is usually in the large cavity, and the giblets in the small cavity by the neck. Remove packets and set aside for later use if you desire. For purposes of ease, and because we don't like giblets, I simply discard mine. I make gravy from the turkey dippings, and therefore discard the gravy packet as well. Also, remove the neck, if your bird comes with one. We don't use this either, but you may use it to make turkey stock later.
Remove any feathers, quills, or yellow bits of fat still attached to the skin. 
Place the turkey in a large bowl, and but the bowl in the sink. Rinse  the turkey inside and out with cold water. Drain as much of the water from the turkey as you can, then pat dry with paper towels. Fold neck skin under body the body. 
Transfer turkey, breast-side up, to the rack in the pan. (Or directly onto the pan if you don't have a rack.) Pat dry with additional paper towels if needed. Tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks loosely together with kitchen string if the bird doesn't come already tied. 
Rub turkey all over with softened butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Tightly cover breast area with foil, leaving the rest of the bird uncovered. This helps the breast meat (which cooks faster) stay moist.
Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with pan juices, removing the foil to reach the breast area.  After 1 hour of roasting and basting, remove the foil from the breast to allow the skin to crisp. Continue roasting and basting every 30 minutes. If the juices evaporate to a glaze, you may add 1 cup of chicken or turkey stock to pan. 
Roast for 3 hours total. Insert a meat thermometer into the largest part of the thigh, and into the thickest part of the breast. If needed, continue roasting until the thermometer registers 170 degrees for the thigh and 160 degrees for the breast, remove  it from the oven, and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving so that the juices that were drawn to the outside of the turkey can redistribute.

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