A simple roast turkey for Thanksgiving

Roast Turkey 2012

My eldest brother came to visit with his family a couple of weeks ago. His wife and daughter were supposed to go up to New York but then Hurricane Sandy hit and so they had to stay in Richmond. Fine with me. Actually, it was perfect so now I can plan an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner.

Whole Foods had a fresh whole Turkey when I went to pick one up so I didn’t have to deal with thawing it out. As for a recipe, I didn’t want to deal with brining either and the November 2012 issue of Bon Appetit had all the recipes I needed to throw a feast!

Important to take the Turkey out an hour before roasting. With the size of the bird, there is no doubt that when it’s too cold, it’s going to drop the temperature of the oven significantly which is why I think the oven temp is first set to 450F.

A Simple Roast Turkey

from Bon Appetit November 2012

1           12-14 lb. turkey, giblets and neck removed, at room temperature for              1 hour

3           tbsp. kosher salt (I used Maldon, so had to use a little bit more)

1.5        tbsp. freshly ground pepper

1           medium onion, quartered

2           celery stalks, coarsely chopped

6           tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

3           tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

1           tbsp. mirin

3          sprigs of rosemary

Preheat oven to 450F. Set a rack inside a large roasting pan. Pour 4 cups of water into the pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Tuck tips of wings under bird. If turkey is not brined, rub bird inside and out with salt. Season inside and out with pepper and place on rack in pan. Place onion and celery in cavity. Rub 3 Tbsp. butter over turkey. Roast turkey uncovered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir remaining 3 tbsp. butter, soy sauce, and mirin (or substitute store-bought teriyaki sauce for soy and mirin) in a small sauce pan over medium heat until melted and smooth. Add rosemary. Cover; keep glaze warm over lowest heat.

Reduce oven to 325F. Baste turkey with pan juices; add more water if needed to maintain at least 1/4″ liquid in pan. Roast for 30 minutes; baste with pan juices. Brush lightly with glaze.

Continue roasting turkey, basting with pan juices and brushing glaze every 30 minutes, tenting with foil if turning too dark, until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone registers 165F (juices should run clear when thermometer is removed), about 2.75 hours total.

Transfer turkey to a platter. Tent with foil; let rest for an hour before carving.

Cooking Notes:

I like getting a turkey that has a button that pops out when it is done, still I do like to double-check using a thermometer. Here are the guidelines for cooking.

15 minutes/lb in an oven set to 325F.

165F registers at thigh when done.

For a 12-14 lb. bird, roughly 4 hours

For a 16-25 lb. bird, roughly 5 hours

For a 20-26 lb. bird, roughly 6 hours

I take the bird out everytime I baste and brush with glaze. This is so the oven doesn’t lose heat. Anyway, when returning the bird to the oven, I always like to rotate the pan for more even cooking. I only rested the bird for 30 minutes before carving.

What about the gravy?

I didn’t want to mess with making a roux when cornstarch will work in a pinch. Dissolve 3 tbsp cornstarch in 3 tbsp. cold water. Anyway, while the turkey was resting I poured all the pan juices through a sieve. I had a pan of chicken stock sitting on the stove top (this was made with Knorr homestyle stock) and added a little to the strained pan juices until I had enough liquid for the turkey. Add 1-2 tbsp. of soy sauce, 1 tbsp. of brown sugar (I think I also added a squeeze of lemon). Taste the gravy base before thickening. If it lacks a savory taste, add some chicken bouillon – trust me on this – I love to use knorr. Once satisfied with flavor, bring pan juices to a boil and  thicken with the cornstarch-water mixture (you may not need to use all of it).