The Simplest Roast Turkey

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THE SIMPLEST ROAST TURKEY

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For a no-fuss, no-muss, delicious turkey, this is your bird. You do not have to tent foil, baste or hover, and you will produce a golden-brown, evenly golden bird with crispy skin and moist breast and dark meat that your family will love. It is also the fastest cooking method, yielding a finished bird in just over 2 hours.

This is a high-heat cooking method, so a clean oven helps, but the tester (who doesn't think her oven has been cleaned in several years, if ever) had no problems with spattering grease or smoking (although the oven exhaust fan did come on for a while).

This roasting method is not recommended for turkeys weighing more than 16 pounds. However, for turkeys weighing less than 14 pounds, start checking the temperature earlier.

If you only have a dark-colored metal roasting pan, add 1 cup water to the roasting pan before putting the turkey in the oven.

For bigger, heavier birds, set the temperature on 350 degrees and allow 12 minutes per pound, plus an additional 30 minutes to let the turkey rest, covered, before carving.

  • 1 (14- to 16-lb) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey giblet stock
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (2 teaspoons if using a kosher bird)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • Special equipment: pliers (preferably needlenose); a small metal skewer (optional); kitchen string; a flat metal rack; an instant-read thermometer

Remove any feathers and quills with pliers (kosher turkeys tend to require this more than others).

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Mix salt and pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin. Fold neck skin under body and, if desired, secure with metal skewer, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.

Put turkey on rack in a large, flameproof roasting pan. Roast, rotating pan 180 degrees halfway through roasting, until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (close to but not touching bone) registers 170 degrees, 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into roasting pan.

Transfer turkey to a platter (do not clean roasting pan) and let stand 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 180 degrees).

Cut off and discard string from turkey. Let rest, covered, for 30 minutes before carving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Variation, stuffed turkey: Twelve cups of stuffing will fill both cavities and leave you extra to bake separately.

Just before roasting, spoon room-temperature stuffing loosely (stuffing expands as it cooks) into the neck (smaller) cavity. Fold the neck skin underneath the body and secure with a small metal skewer. Then loosely fill the body (larger) cavity, and tie drumsticks together. If you don't want any stuffing to spill out, cover the opening with a slice of fresh bread, tucking it inside the cavity before tying the drumsticks.

Follow roasting directions above. (Timing for a stuffed bird may be slightly longer, but start checking the temperature at 1 3/4 hours.)

Immediately transfer stuffing from body cavity to a shallow baking dish (separate from one for stuffing baked outside the turkey).

Take temperature of stuffing in neck cavity and, if less than 165 degrees, add it to the baking dish. Bake (covered for a moist stuffing or uncovered for a crisp top) until it reaches a minimum of 165 degrees. This can take 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of the oven, which you may have lowered to reheat side dishes.

-- Gourmet



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