Whether it's for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other special dinner, a roast turkey is a great choice to serve - especially in the autumn or winter seasons. This instructable will show you how to make a perfectly delectable and moist turkey without all the fuss and mess you may have come to expect.
You Will Need:
Small dish & spoon
Having some of your side dishes ready early helps to make cooking your bird a lot easier.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds make a great snack and keep well:
Pumpkin Pie can be baked the day before:
Cranberry sauce is often better after it's gelled in the refrigerator:
Squash can easily be par-baked and re-heated before scooping from the rind:
Stuffing can be made very quickly a few hours early and set aside:
And candied yams (& sweet potatoes) are hot and ready within minutes if par-boiled ahead of time:
Step 1: Pre-heat & De-frost
Take your turkey out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator beforehand to defrost. Do this in the morning of the day before if your bird is large and later in the afternoon or evening if it is smaller. A couple of hours before you intend to begin cooking, check the bird to see if it is still frozen - if it hasn't defrosted enough you can remove it from the fridge and continue to defrost at room temperature or in a basin of cold water.
When roasting a turkey you should always remember that low and slow is the best way to go.
Cook at 325℉.
Roast time is 20-30 minutes per pound which equates to 2-5 hours depending on size and de-frost time is 4-5 hours per pound.
You can be sure that the turkey is done by inserting a meat thermometer near where the breast meets the thigh - don't go so far in as to hit bone and opt for a reading of 170℉.
Step 2: Chop Veggies
Cut up 6-8 carrots, a couple of sticks of celery and half of a small white onion.
These will be placed in the roasting pan with the turkey to add flavour and moisture to the bird itself and to the drippings should you intend to make gravy with them. The carrots are always great to serve as another side but the celery and onion are often not suitable for that after cooking for so long - save them and cook them down to make more savoury sauce or gravy or a broth for turkey soup from leftovers.
Step 3: Seasoning
You can use pre-made poultry seasoning, use fresh herbs (which I highly recommend whenever possible) or mix the following:
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
into approximately 1/4-1/3 cup of softened butter.
Mix in 2-4 cloves of minced or grated garlic.
Step 4: Setting Up
Remove your turkey from the packaging and the giblets from your turkey.
Save and cook the giblets to make gravy or to provide your pets with a thanksgiving of their own.
Step 5: Slathering
From the tail end forward slip your clean hands underneath the skin of the bird and without poking a finger through it, move your hands around and separate the skin from the flesh.
Take your seasoned butter and slather it all over your hands, then spread it over the turkey breasts and legs beneath the skin. Smear any excess on top of the skin.
Step 6: Stuffing
Stuff your turkey after removing the giblets and smothering in seasoning.
Step 7: Roasting
Fold your wings underneath the bird and tie the legs together if they do not already come with a brace. The bird in these photos came with a leg-lock and also had one broken wing which meant they could not be folded.
Surround and cover the bird with vegetables.
Optional: Add a 1/2 cup of water for extra gravy drippings.
Make an aluminium tent to cover the bird and keep it on for the first 2-3 hours of cooking.
Place in your oven pre-heated to 325℉.
Step 8: Basting
While the bird is roasting, check on it periodically.
Lift a corner of the aluminium tent and use a turkey baster to take drippings from the bottom of the pan and cover the turkey and vegetables with them. This keeps your food both moist and flavourful. You should baste the turkey at least twice during the cook time.
Step 9: Carve & Serve
Remove your turkey from the oven when it is done and let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. During this time you can make gravy from the drippings or prepare your sides, drinks and condiments, etc.
Take a large spoon and scoop out the stuffing into a bowl.
Carve and serve moist, savoury turkey with gravy or cranberry sauce and root vegetables or gourds.