Turkey time is here and if you’ve never experienced wrestling with a bird that weighs more than a baby, here’s your chance. For all of you skeptics who think that Thanksgiving Dinner is too large a production for your tiny ovens, I’m here to demonstrate the contrary. Last night, I fit a 22 lb. bird, three acorn squash and a casserole dish filled with cornbread stuffing into an oven that I thought could barely accommodate a roast chicken. After three and a half hours in the oven, the turkey emerged crisp and golden brown on the outside and moist on the inside. Now I’m a believer. No oven is too small to cook a turkey.
It used to be that the Butterballs were standard. Now consumers can buy a range of more flavorful birds, such as organic, free-range and heritage turkeys. Remember that a frozen turkey needs plenty of time to thaw and the best way to do it is in a cold-water bath, in its plastic casing. Sitting it on the countertop is a good way to get your guests sick. The bird needs to stay cool until you cook it. Once it’s thawed, rinse it under cold water, inside an out and pat dry with paper towels. Now you’re ready to roast.
Roast Turkey Serves a houseful of people
1 turkey, anything but a Butterball
A roasting pan
A basting brush
Fresh ground pepper
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken stock
Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, Italian flat leaf parsley)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When preparing poultry, it is important not to neglect the body cavity as it greatly enhances the flavor. Season the bird with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper generously, inside and out. Melt the butter in the microwave until soft. Brush the turkey, inside an out. Stuff the body cavity with a handful of herbs. Tie the legs together loosely and tuck the wing tips in. Stick it in the oven for a half hour. Pour one cup chicken stock over the bird, turn down the temperature to 350 and cook for one hour. Open the oven door and pour a second cup of chicken stock over the bird. Using the brush, baste the bird, covering every last inch. Close the oven door and let cook for another hour. Baste the bird again. Do this until the skin is a nice golden brown and a meat thermometer, stuck between the thigh and the body, reads 170 degrees. Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes. Carve the meat, one piece at a time using a very sharp knife so that you don’t loose the skin.