Gotta have the turkey on Thanksgiving. There are thousands of ways to prepare a turkey and everyone seems to have their own opinion on what works best. I won’t try to say this was is the best but it’s what I tried today and it worked quite well for me!
This method is a bit different than what you’re used to in that the bird is cooked upside-down for the first 45 minutes to help avoid over-cooking the breast. Cook’s Illustrated recommended this method and I was intrigued. They also suggested icing the breast for an hour before baking but I failed to prepare enough ice the night before for this so I skipped that step. The recommend using a v-rack but all I had was a flat cooking rack that barley fit into a large shallow roasting pan that I have so I went with that. They recommend covering whatever rack you’re using in foil in order to reduce the lines that will be impressed on the breast while it is cooking facing downward. I also failed to do this. I wasn’t all that prepared for this meal was I? So yes, when I flipped my bird there was a set of horizontal lines across the breast of the turkey but they diminished quite a bit by the end of cooking. This was a very tasty bird. I took it out when an instant read thermometer read 160 degrees but I think next time I will remove it even sooner since carry-over cooking took my bird a bit past where I would have liked it to be. Not bad, still juicy and delicious!
I wanted to try brining my bird this year but it turns out that you’re not supposed to brine a Butterball (which is what I had) since they inject their turkeys with a salt solution prior to freezer. Maybe next year. But feel free to do that first if you wish, just be sure to thoroughly rinse your bird before preceding with the below steps.
*(Adapted from Roast Salted Turkey from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 1 turkey (10-14 lbs), rinsed, giblets and neck removed and reserved if making gravy
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
- 5 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
- Dried thyme
- Dried rosemary
- Kosher salt and black pepper
*You can choose to brine your bird ahead of time but if you are using a Butterball it is advised against it since these birds are injected with a salt solution prior to freezing
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with the rack in the lowest position
- Prepare a roasting pan with a rack in it and the rack covered in heavy duty aluminum foil with about 20 small holes poked in it
- Pat the turkey dry after rinsing.
- Tuck the drumsticks into the skin at the tale
- Brush melted butter all over the entire bird and season liberally with the salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Sprinkle seasonings into the cavity of the bird as well
- Place the garlic, onion, celery, carrot and lemon slices in the cavity of the bird
- Place the bird breast-side down carefully on the rack in the roasting pan and cook for 45 minutes
- Remove pan from oven and carefully flip the bird over. Tuck the wing tips under the back
- Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F
- Continue to cook until the turkey is an internal temperature of 150-160 degrees F (it will carry-over cook a bit when you remove it from oven). Place the pan in the oven with the legs of the turkey in the back part of the oven since this is the hotter part of the oven and dark meat takes a bit longer to cook than the breast meat.
- Remove from oven and tent loosely with foil. Allow to rest about 30 minutes
- Remove from pan, carve and serve