Welcome! Now that I’ve confessed that I don’t do turkey the way my granny did, it’s time to move on from dry brining (There’s still time!) to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!
Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!
A small amount of math is inevitable.
Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!
Preheat oven to 525 degrees F.
Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.
If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!
(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )
Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)
Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)
- Quartered onion, skin on.
- A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
- A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
- 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
- A handful of fresh thyme sprigs.
- A fresh lemon, cut in half.
- Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
- Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.
After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.
Then, scrub and roughly chop about:
- 6 small carrots.
- 3 – 4 onions.
- 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.
Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.
Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast.
(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)
Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.
* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.
If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!
Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.
Gather your family and friends and enjoy.