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North Pole 2000

 Turkey Time

Classic Roast Turkey-Gobble Gobble Gobble

This simple recipe is guaranteed to produce a juicy, golden-brown bird.

Makes 12 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Roasting time: See below for your bird size

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 325F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey inside and out under cold running water; drain well and pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2:
Rub neck and body cavities with salt and pepper. If using stuffing, spoon loosely into cavities and truss (see below How to Truss a Turkey). See my stuffing recipe .If not using stuffing, place whole onion in neck cavity. Place carrots, celery, quartered onion, parsley, and bay leaves inside body cavity, then truss.

Step 3:
Place turkey, breast-side-up (I cooked it upside down once, a little too much Xmas cheer but it came out great!) on a rack in a large roasting pan, brush with butter, and tent loosely with foil. Lift foil and baste generously with pan drippings every half hour. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meatiest part of the thigh but not touching the bone registers 180F to 185F, about 4 hours depending on size.

Step 4:
About 30 minutes before turkey is done, remove foil and baste again. When turkey is done, transfer to a heated platter and let stand while you make gravy. Remove vegetables and bay leaves before serving.


TURKEY-BUYING BASICS-Your fridge is not the Holiday Inn
When you're talking turkey, fresh is better and easier than frozen.  And it eliminates the need to defrost it. This is a bigger advantage than you might think. Defrosting has to be done in the refrigerator, and takes about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey. That means a 15-pound bird would need to take up residence in your fridge for 72 hours before it would be ready to cook!  So if you don't want to turn you fridge into the Holiday Inn buy fresh.

In addition, unless you'll be feeding an enormous crowd, it's best to buy a smaller, 14- to 16-pound turkey than those oven-busters that can weigh in at 24 pounds plus. Smaller birds roast more quickly, and it's less likely that the white meat will dry out before the dark meat is done.

Never defrost a frozen turkey at room temperature -- it can cause food poisoning. Instead, hasten the thawing process by placing the turkey in its unopened wrapper or a sealed plastic bag in a sinkfull of cold (not warm) water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the meat feels soft. Allow 30 minutes per pound for this method.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff?
It's your choice to stuff or not to stuff. Click here for my wonderful Stuffing recipe.

If you want to stuff, fill the cavity loosely, since the stuffing will expand as the turkey roasts. Make the stuffing the day you intend to cook the turkey and keep it refrigerated until ready to use. Wait to stuff the bird until you are about to put it in the oven.

If you choose not to stuff place whole onion in neck cavity. Place carrots, celery, quartered onion, parsley, and bay leaves inside body cavity

When the turkey is done, scoop out the stuffing and place it in a serving dish before carving. If you're not serving right away, be sure to remove it before the bird cools. Always wrap and refrigerate turkey and stuffing separately.

HOW TO TRUSS A TURKEY:  Truss not Trust

Step 1:
TurkeyStuff neck and body cavities. Secure the neck skin to the back with round toothpicks or trussing pins (available at a housewares store).

Step 2:
TurkeyHold the sides of the body cavity opening (the vent) together, then pin it closed with toothpicks, a skewer, or trussing pins.

Step 3:
TurkeyBring the legs up and together over the vent, wrap with string and tie securely. The ends of the legs should be touching.

Step 4:
TurkeyInsert meat thermometer in thickest part of thigh. To protect wing tips from burning, tuck them securely behind shoulders.



Turkey must be roasted at 325F until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh -- but not touching the bone -- reads 180F. Here are some approximate roasting times. Note: stuffed & unstuffed.

Weight (pounds) Unstuffed (hours) Stuffed (hours)
8 to 12
12 to 14
14 to 18
18 to 20
20 to 24
2-1/2 to 3
3 to 3-1/4
3-1/4 to 4-1/4
4-1/4 to 4-1/2
4-1/2 to 5
3 to 3-1/2
3-1/2 to 4
4 to 4-1/2
4-1/4 to 4-3/4
4-3/4 to 5-1/4


Basting every half hour or so will result in a beautiful, evenly browned bird. You can use a bulb baster, or even a spoon, but a pastry brush will give you the best results. If the breast starts browning before the rest of the turkey, simply cover it with a tent of aluminum foil, then remove the foil for the last half hour of cooking.

CARVING 101: Don't Hack Your Bird
It's not hard to carve a turkey correctly. All you really need is patience and a long, thin knife.

Step 1:
TurkeyUsing a knife and your fingers, cut and remove drumsticks, thighs, and wings at their joints. Hold the breast firmly with a fork. Then, start to remove the breast meat by making a deep cut -- parallel to the platter -- at about the height of the wing joint.

Step 2:
TurkeyCarefully carve the breast downward in thin slices.

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