Am I the greatest Turkey roaster of all time? No, of course not. That would be a stupid assumption. But I do think this technique is pretty good.
A quick note on this video. I would probably take out the turkey about a half hour before I did in the final cut. It definitely wasn't dry, but I would make it a good practice to really keep up on the temp of the bird frequently. I like to evacuate when the breast reaches 160, and the thigh reaches around 170. Some people think that's a little too hot, but I believe that if you brine beforehand, you don't have to worry about drying out the turkey.
Well, maybe a little worried. A little fear is good when you cook. Just a little.
This is a super duper basic way to cook a turkey. It was what I did the first time I ever cooked one, and I was happy with the results. Go ahead and improvise all you want! As my hero Chef John would say: "That's you cooking."
- 12 - 15lb Turkey
- 1lb Salt
- 1lb Honey
- 3 - 5 lbs of Ice
- 1 cup Marsala Wine
- 1 cup Turkey Stock (or Chicken Stock)
- 2 - 4 Tbsp Flour
I start by brining my turkey the day before I cook it. I dissolve the salt and honey in about 1.5 liters of boiling water, then I cool that down with another 1.5 liters of water. Put the turkey and the brine in a cooler and enough water to cover. Top with ice and leave for 12 hours. (Pro tip: you can apparently line the cooler with a garbage bag first, so the cooler doesn't get all covered in turkey juice. I've never tried it... but it sounds legitimate.)
After 12 hours, pat the turkey dry and place it on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Place it in the refrigerator uncovered for another 12 hours. If you plan everything right, you'll be putting the turkey in the brine the morning before you want to roast it, then you'll be putting it in the fridge the night before, then you'll be roasting by the next day.
Speaking of the next day, take out the turkey and stuff the cavity with fresh herbs, and apple, some ginger, and whatever else you think will smell nice. Truss up the legs and tuck the wings underneath the body. Place it in a 450 degree oven for half an hour. I like to put the cooling rack right on the oven rack, then position a sheet pan on the rack below. I find it gets more airflow around the turkey, but I could be wrong.
After the first half hour of roasting is finished, drop the oven temperature to 350 and let the turkey finish cooking until the thigh temps out at 170. I figure about 10 minutes per pound is a decent place to start, but you'll really want to rely on your thermometer.
Carve it up like I did in the video and serve with gravy. Concerning the gravy: put the sheet pan directly over two burners on your stovetop. Deglaze all the drippings with one cup of Marsala wine. Strain the drippings into a saucepan and reduce by half. Make a slurry with flour and chicken stock and add it to the hot gravy to thicken. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock and season with salt if necessary (I never really do, because the drippings are usually salty enough.) Let that reduce until it's as thick as you like, and feel free to throw some herbs in.
That's my basic turkey roasting technique! It's so basic, I really can't claim it as "my own," as I'm sure it's been done before. But it's how I like to do it, and if you've never roasted a turkey before I think it's a nice place to start.