Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 6- to 24-pound dressed turkey, fresh or frozen (allow 1 pound per serving for birds 12 pounds or under, and 3/4 pound
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- Dried herbs and spices of choice: sage, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder
- Dressing (stuffing) of choice, optional
- Vegetable oil
- Turkey Gravy
A whole turkey purchased fresh (not frozen) may safely be refrigerated up to 2 days before roasting.
Click here for how to thaw frozen turkey.
To prepare the turkey for roasting:
Do not stuff the turkey until immediately before roasting. When ready to roast the turkey, rinse the outside and cavities of the bird under cold, running water. Cut away and discard any fat remaining on the bird. Place the turkey on several layers of paper towels to drain. Using additional paper towels, pat the outside and cavities dry. Sprinkle cavity liberally with salt and pepper.
To stuff the turkey, stand the bird on its tail end in a large bowl; using a tablespoon, stuff the neck cavity loosely with dressing. Pull the neck skin over the dressing and fasten it to the body with a poultry skewer. Turn the bird and place the neck end in the bowl; stuff the body cavity loosely with dressing. It is important to stuff the dressing fairly loosely in the bird because dressing expands during cooking.
Remove the turkey from the bowl and lay the bird, breast side up, on a piece of waxed paper or directly on a clean work surface. Pull the legs close to the body and tie the ends together with cotton string. If the tail has been left on the bird, tie the legs to the tail to partially close the body cavity. Some frozen turkeys are packed with a metal clamp to secure the legs, in which case it is not necessary to tie the legs with string. Fold the wings under the bird to provide a platform for roasting.
Place the turkey, breast side up, on a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush all the exposed surfaces with vegetable oil. Sprinkle liberally with your choice of herbs, spices, salt, and pepper. Insert a meat thermometer into one of the inner thigh areas near the breast, making certain the tip of the thermometer is not touching bone. While many commercial turkeys are packed with a disposable thermometer preinserted into the breast which is designed to pop up when the bird is done, a standard meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh at the time the turkey is placed in the oven for roasting, is considered a more reliable means of determining doneness. Also, a standard meat thermometer makes it possible to know how close the turkey is to being done -- an aid in timing preparation of the remainder of the meal.
To roast the turkey:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cover the turkeyloosely with extra-heavy aluminum foil, leaving space between the bird and the foil. Lightly tuck the foil around the front, back, and sides of the bird. Do not add water to the pan. Roast the turkey until the meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees F. and the juices run clear. (Click for approximate roasting times.)
The roasting time may vary up to 30 minutes, depending upon the bird and the oven. Use the meat thermometer to check the temperature of the dressing. The center of the dressing inside the bird (or in a separate baking dish) must reach a temperature of 165 degrees F. for food safety.
Remove the aluminum foil about 30 minutes before the turkey is done to complete the browning of the bird.
When done, remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a serving platter or carving board; cover loosely with aluminum foil and let it stand 10 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, make the Turkey Gravy. Remove all the dressing from the neck and body cavities before carving the turkey. Pour the gravy into a gravy boat and pass at the table.
To roast unstuffed turkey:
Follow the instructions above, omitting the dressing (stuffing). Roast the turkey until the meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees F. (Click for approximate roasting times.) Traditional turkey side dishes include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie.
Yield: Calculate 3/4 to 1 pound turkey serving per guest
Source: Blue Ribbon Country Cookbook by Diane Roupe (Crown Pub)
Reprinted with permission.