Introduction: Miso-rubbed Roast Turkey

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

Easy and super-tasty roast turkey makes even better gravy.

Step 1: Make Miso Rub

Acquire one large onion, a tub of miso paste, a couple of cloves of garlic, black pepper, and some nice extra-virgin olive oil.

Grate (on a microplane or ginger grater) or food-process the onion and garlic until you have at least half a cup of extremely fine puree. Make sure not to lose any of the onion juice. Mix in roughly an equal amount of miso paste, some freshly ground black pepper, and a dollop of olive oil. The result should be a nice brown color.

Step 2: Rub Down Turkey

Place your (fully thawed) turkey in its roasting pan, breast-side up. Make sure the bowl of miso rub is easily accessible.

Starting at the back of the bird (larger cavity) run your hands under the skin of the breast, and spread your fingers to detatch the skin from the meat. Wiggle your hand around to the leg/thigh area, detatching as you go. Spin the pan and do the same thing from the front of the bird. If this doesn't look positively indecent, you're not doing it right.

Scoop up some miso rub, and shove it in under the skin. It's fine to leave big miso lumps; you can massage the skin from the outside to spread it properly. Work about 75% of the rub in under the skin, trying to reach as much of the bird surface as possible. Flip the bird over, and rub a bit more into the surface of the skin on its back, then return to original belly-up position. Rub remaining miso onto the outside of the breast and leg skin.

Step 3: Roast Bird

Place your fully-rubbed bird into a preheated 400F oven. Make sure to put a cookie sheet under the roasting pan if it's one of the disposables, as they can't really support much weight. For reference, this is a 24lb bird. I needed a bit of help getting it properly situated in my low oven.

Step 4: Monitor Roasting Progress

Cook bird at 400F for about 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350F for the rest of the cooking time. No basting required. The miso browns very easily, so it's a good idea to cover the breast with a piece of foil when you turn the temperature down. I didn't do this early enough, so my miso is a bit black on top.

When a meat thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh/body junction reads ~160, it's time to take the bird out. I don't really trust those "popper" thermometers the turkeys come with, especially since they're located in the breast, which often cooks at a different rate from the rest of the bird.

Step 5: Let It Rest

Remove your turkey once the leg/thigh area reaches 160F. Let it sit for about half an hour for the juices to settle.

Step 6: Finish

Move your turkey to a large platter garnished with parsley and fruit for the true Norman Rockwell-esque carving experience at the table. Get help moving the turkey if possible- it's best to mostly lift from below using spatulas. Note that the legs are non-structural at this point, but the ribcage/body cavity still is; you can put a hand or tool into the body cavity to help support some (but not all) of the weight as you move the bird.

Save all of the pan juices and fiddly bits from the roasting pan, as they're a key component to a fantastic gravy. Skim off some or all of the fat, to your taste. See the related project for gravy-making instructions.