I got a free turkey last week. No room in my freezer... so I roasted it last night. And I thought that I would share with you one of my favorite ways to roast a turkey.
There are as many ways to cook a Turkey as there are to eat it. Thanksgiving is coming and so I thought I would share this method with you. This is one of my favorite ways to make a turkey... Hot and Fast. That is right, a 16 pound turkey in a little more than 2 hours. Other than frying a turkey (my favorite way) this is the fastest and best way I have found.
Clean the turkey and remove all gizzards and the neck which is inside the cavity. Mine also had a heavy plastic thing in side to hold the legs together. If yours does, remove it. Completely dry the turkey using paper towels.
It is really quite simple to make and there are a variety of ways to top the turkey, I usually use olive oil, smoked hawaiian sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Sometimes I coat the turkey with pomegranate glaze. Last night I made a compound butter with tarragon, garlic, hot paprika and smoked sea salt. I carefully separated the skin from the breast and thighs and pushed that soft delicious mixture in between the skin and the flesh. Then I rubbed the remaining butter all over the turkey, including the cavity and added a bit more salt and pepper.
Pre-heat the oven to it's hottest temperature, mine is 550 degrees.
Place the turkey on top of a rack in a heavy roaster. You can use disposable roasters if you want, but I suggest two of them or placing a single one on a sheet pan for ease of removal with that big hot turkey in it. You do HAVE to use a rack, otherwise the turkey stews and does not cook as beautifully.
Use whatever method you want to for glazing/basting the turkey. Do not stuff the turkey with stuffing. Cook your stuffing on the stove top and then just put it in the oven for a few minutes to crust up. I do place some aromatics inside the cavity, garlic heads, onion quarters and some fresh herbs. It actually cooks faster if you leave the inside wide open. I have even used a fork to hold the opening wide while cooking. You do not need to truss the turkey, but I did tie the wings closer to the body. Pour 1 bottle of white wine into the roasting pan. Cover the turkey loosely with foil. You do not want to steam the turkey, the foil prevents excessive browning.
When the oven has pre-heated, place the roasting pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 475 degrees. Bake for 1 hour about 30 minutes into cooking time, quickly peek in and see that there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan, you want about an inch of liquid, so add more wine if needed. After one hour of cooking, quickly remove the roasting pan and add the following in the bottom of the pan:
Celery cut in big chunks
Carrots cut in big chunks
15-20 peeled garlic cloves
another bottle of wine or chicken/turkey stock
At this point fill the empty wine bottle with water. You will want to maintain a fluid level of about 1 inch in the bottom of the pan. Having it in a wine bottle makes it easy to pour into the pan without removing it from the oven.
Roast for another hour, checking the liquid every twenty minutes or so.
After two hours (total roasting time), insert an instant read thermometer into the breast, going at least 3" into the bird. It should read 160 dgrees, if it does not cook it for another 15 minutes and check again, making sure the liquid is still in the bottom of the pan. Continue doing this if needed to assure full cooking of the turkey. When you do get a reading of 160, remove the pan from the oven and place the turkey onto a platter, cover with the foil and lay a thick towel over it and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
While the turkey is resting, you can turn down the oven and finish off any dishes like stuffing in the oven.
For an easy, healthy and flavorful gravy, Remove the turkey neck and discard. Pour all of the veggies from the bottom of the pan by pouring into a sieve. In the roasting pan, return the liquid by using a Turkey baster to get just the juices and not the fat. Put the veggies into a food processor and puree, then pour into the juices in to the pan. Take 2 Tablespoons of corn starch and 2 Tablespoons of water and shake in a jar till the corn starch is dissolved. Turn on the heat under the roasting pan (using two burners) and whisk in the corn starch mixture. And stir, till the gravy has thickened. Season to your taste.
I am smoking the carcass and dark meat to make Creamy Willamsburg Smoked Turkey Soup. More on that in a few days... but before I share that recipe with you, I am going to bring you an all time favorite, Brandied & Spiced Cranberry Sauce, you will want a double batch of this one! Stay tuned...
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