It’s that time of year again, and the big question is: how does one roast a turkey? Well, I’ve tried numerous methods, and this is the one I’ve settled on. It’s from the now defunct Gourmet magazine. In the original article, I believe they said that they had tested over 25 ways to roast a turkey and that this method won out. That was enough for me. I decided to trust their research and try their method of high heat throughout the cooking process. I’ve used it many times since and have always been very pleased.I use this method on a smaller sized bird, a 12-16 pound turkey, a conventional bird, NOT a heritage or pastured turkey. I don’t know that it would work, for various reasons, for a larger, heritage, or pastured turkey. The USDA recommends that turkey meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Test the temperature of the meat using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh of the bird. Do not touch the bone when you are taking the temperature of the meat. I like poultry cooked to a minimum so that it’s at its juiciest, but feel free to cook your bird to your desired state of doneness.
The next big question: to stuff or not to stuff. I like to stuff my turkey because to me the stuffing that comes out of the bird is always tastiest. The controversy about the stuffing is that there’s an increased risk of food poisoning. However, my guests and I have never gotten food poisoning from a turkey dinner at my home. I take care to follow all safety procedures. Put the stuffing in the turkey just before you put it in the oven. Do NOT let the turkey sit on the counter for a long period of time with the stuffing inside it. There is raw egg in the stuffing; that, combined with the raw poultry and poultry juices, is food poisoning waiting to happen. Have your stuffing chilled or at room temperature before you put it in the bird. Do NOT put warm stuffing in the bird. The center of the stuffing, when cooked, should also reach a temperature of 165 degrees. Check the temperature of the stuffing when your turkey is done by inserting the thermometer directly into the core of the stuffing. If the stuffing has not reached 165 degrees, but your turkey has, scoop the stuffing out of the turkey, place it in a baking dish, and return it to the oven. Continue cooking it until the center temperature reaches 165 degrees. If you do choose to stuff your turkey the cooking time will be longer.
Remove your turkey from the refrigerator one hour before you plan to cook it. It will cook more evenly if it is at room temperature before going into the oven. Lower the rack in your oven to the lowest position and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Rinse your turkey with cold water inside and out. Pat it dry. If you’re going to stuff your bird do so now. Fill the main cavity and the neck cavity and close them using metal skewers, or sew them up with string. Tuck the wings under the bird and tie the legs together with string. Place on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan and put in the oven.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you an accurate per pound time in the oven. Check it after 1 hour and 50 minutes. Then check it periodically until it’s at 165 degrees. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes before you carve it.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!