Despite the thousands of recipes available, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t require a degree is physics. It is, in fact, one of the easiest pieces of meat to cook.
No recipe is fail-safe, but we’ve found that this one comes close.
TIP: Ensure the oven is clean before roasting the bird.
Special Equipment Required: You’ll need a pair of needlenose pliers, kitchen twine, a metal skewer, a flat roasting rack, an instant-read thermometer and oven mitts.
1 (14- to 16-lb) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
Water or broth
Non-stick cooking spray
Use the pliers to pluck any stray feathers left on the turkey.
Remove all but one rack from the oven and place it in the lower third portion of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Run the turkey under cold water to rinse it, inside and out, and then pat it dry with paper towels.
Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl or ramekin and use your fingers to sprinkle it inside the cavity and across the bird’s skin.
Spoon the stuffing loosely into the neck opening, fold the neck skin underneath the body and secure with a small metal skewer. Then loosely fill the large cavity with stuffing, cover the opening with a slice of bread and use the kitchen twine to tie drumsticks together.
Pour 1 cup of water or broth into the bottom of the roasting pan to prevent smoking while cooking.
Place the rack inside the roasting pan and spray it lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Place the turkey on the rack and roast it for about 1 ½ hours. Turn the pan half way and then continue roasting until the thermometer, inserted into each thigh, reads 170 degrees F. Total roasting time will take from almost 2 hours to 2 ½ hours.
Use oven mitts to protect your hands and lift the turkey from the pan. Reserve the juices for the gravy.
Set the turkey on a platter and immediately remove the stuffing to a shallow baking dish. If the stuffing’s temperature is less than 165 F, bake it until the thermometer reads 165 F. This may take up to 45 minutes.
TIP: If you prefer a crispy crust on the stuffing, bake uncovered.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine/“The Simplest Roast Turkey”/November 2005