I made an early Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday and I wanted to make a roasted turkey that was simple and delicious. I looked in my cooking “bible” The New Best Recipe Cookbook from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated and found the perfect recipe. I loved the technique they used for cooking the bird. First you brine the bird for four hours then you let it dry out in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (up to overnight). When you are ready to roast the turkey you first spread a little bit of butter all over the bird then simply season it. Next, cook the bird breast side down for awhile. Then, carefully turn the bird onto it’s side, baste it, and cook for a little bit. Next, flip it to it’s other side, baste it, then cook for awhile. Finally, place the bird breast side up, baste it, then finish roasting until the bird is done. Doing this made the turkey cook very evenly and the breast meat stayed moist and tender while the dark meat finished cooking. I thought it might be difficult to do but it was actually super easy. It turned out to be a beautifully cooked bird that was flavorful, moist, and super delicious. We all enjoyed it!
Remove the neck (and anything else) from the cavity of the turkey. Dissolve the salt in 2 gallons of cold water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Add the turkey and refrigerate or set in a very cool spot (4o degrees or colder) for 4 hours.
Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well under cool running water, and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the turkey, uncovered, in the refrigerator and air-dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss one third of the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and sage along with 1 tablespoon of butter into the turkey cavity then season the cavity with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Bring the turkey legs together and truss the bird.
Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Scatter the remaining vegetables, thyme, and sage in the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of water over the vegetables. Set a roasting rack in the pan. Brush the entire turkey evenly with the remaining butter, then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Place the turkey, breast side down, on the rack. Place into the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, making sure to close the oven door, and place onto the counter. Baste the bird with the juices from the pan then carefully turn the turkey, leg/thigh-side up with a couple of wads of paper towels. Side Note: My turkey wanted to fall over so I balled up some tin foil to hold the turkey up. I was worried that the tin foil would rip the turkey skin, so I placed a couple of the onion chunks in between the tinfoil and the bird – it worked great! Baste the bird again then place back into the oven for 15 minutes. If there isn’t much liquid in the bottom of the pan, add another 1/2 cup of water.
Remove the pan from the oven, making sure to close the oven door, and place onto the counter. Baste the bird with the juices from the pan then carefully turn the turkey so the other leg/thigh-side is up with the couple of wads of paper towels you used before. Side Note: Use the balled up tin foil and onions to hold up the bird again. Baste the bird again then place back into the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, making sure to close the oven door, and place onto the counter. Baste the bird with the juices from the pan then carefully turn the turkey so it’s breast side up with the couple of wads of paper towels you used before. Baste the bird really well then place back into the oven to finish roasting, about 45 minutes or until the breast registers 165 with a meat thermometer and the thigh registers to 170-175.
Remove from the oven to a carving board and let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Enjoy.