Oven Roasting Thanksgiving Turkey from Pam’s Turkey Primer Chapter 1

Oven roasting a turkey can be very easy.  Although there are a plethora of turkey recipes, roasting the bird is really very simple.  Most all recipes for turkey also work on chicken.  Turkey is done when temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 160°-165°, or 175° to 180° (not touching bone) in thickest part of thigh. Here are 3 recipes for roasting turkey; Oven Roasted Turkey, Spatchcock Turkey,  High Temperature Oven Roasting.  Addition info. on Brine Turkey as well as Upside down Roasting and more.

Buy the best quality turkey you can find and afford. Fresh farmstead local turkey is the best choice.  Heritage and wild turkeys I’ve read are done when temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 150°, while the norm is 160° to 165°.  Keep in mind the meat will have a gamey taste.  The most common commercial birds are sold frozen.  Old, dry or poor quality turkeys are best brined.  Follow label directions on thawing a frozen turkey.

  • Approx. Guide to roasting whole turkey in 300° oven:
  •  8-10 lb. turkey  20-25 minutes per lb.
  • 10-16 lb. turkey 18-20 minutes per lb.
  • 18-25 lb. turkey  15-18 minutes per lb

 

Oven Roasted Turkey

  1. Remove packet from inside turkey.  It should contain; neck, gizzard, liver and heart, save these for later.  Rinse turkey & pat dry.
  2. Rub a light coat of oil or herb butter over the turkey.  For extra juiciness and flavor make a pocket under the skin, where it gives way easily and insert herb butter.
  3. Salt all over inside and out.  Unrefined sea salt recommended.
  4. Place breast side up, on rack in roasting pan uncovered. “V” rack works best. Option, Roast turkey breast side down in “V” rack for the first half of roasting time then flip to breast side up.  Caution hot slippery bird, protect your hands with oven mitts or towels, while not tearing the skin.  The benefit is reported to be, breast meat juicy and tender, and dark meat done nicely.
  5. Pre-heat oven on broil or highest temperature.
  6. Gently pour about a cup of liquid into the bottom of the pan.  White wine/ turkey or chicken broth/ water.
  7. Partially brown using broiler or oven’s highest temps, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. No need to open the door or move the turkey.  Reduce oven temperature to 300°-325°, roasting until temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 160-165°, or 175° to 180° (not touching bone) in thickest part of thigh.
  9. Baste the turkey every 20 to 30 minutes.  Remember each time the oven door is open you’ll lose that amount of over all time, and the oven temperature will need to recover.
  10. Let turkey cool, 1/2 hour or so before carving.

Our nephew was browning a very large turkey under the broiler as directed here, for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Because the turkey was so tall, It caught on fire.  Fortunately he remained clam. Turned the oven off.  Waited until all was safe. Opened the door, then removed the turkey.  When every thing calmed down, he continued the recipe, roasting at the 300°-325° range.  The turkey came out wonderful, and with beautiful crisp skin. I do not recommend the oven fire!  To avoid this keep as much space as possible between the broiler and the turkey.

High Temperature Oven Roasting

I’ve done this many times the meat comes out beautiful, but it’s a very hot oven with a smoke filled kitchen.

  1. Remove packet from inside turkey.  It should contain; neck, gizzard, liver and heart, save these for later.  Rinse turkey & pat dry.
  2. Oil or butter the turkey.  Salt all over.
  3. Place on a rack in roasting pan uncovered.
  4. Preheat oven 500°
  5. Roast until temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 160-165°, or 175° to 180° (not touching bone) in thickest part of thigh.
  6. Let bird cool 15-20 minutes before carving.

Spatchcock Turkey

Splitting the breast plate and removing the backbone cuts the roasting time by, yes you guessed it “half” or more.*   Click on the first picture to see a brief video of Spatchcok Turkey.

  1. Remove packet from inside turkey.  It should contain; neck, gizzard, liver and heart, save these for later.
  2. Rinse turkey & pat dry
  3. Remove wires or clasp holding the bottom of legs together.  Remove tail flap if still attached and save.
  4. Use a sharp cleaver or sharp heavy knife to cut thru the center of the breast plate.
  5. Flip bird over back side up.  Score the skin along both sides of the back bone.
  6.  Use a sharp cleaver or sharp heavy knife to cut the back bone out.
  7. Salt turkey all over. Unrefined sea salt best to use.
  8.  Rub a light coat of oil or herb butter over the turkey.  For extra juicy meat and flavor make a pocket under the skin, where it gives way easily and insert herb butter.
  9. Place turkey on flat rack on roasting pan.
  10. Pre-heat oven on broil or highest temperature.
  11. Pour about a cup of liquid into the bottom of the pan.  White wine/ turkey or chicken broth/ water.
  12. Partially brown using broiler or oven’s highest temps, 15 to 20 minutes.  No need to open the door or move the turkey.  Reduce oven temperature to 300°-325° roasting until temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 160°-165°, or 175° to 180° (not touching bone) in thickest part of thigh.
  13. Baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so.  Remember each time the oven door is open you’ll lose that amount of over-all time, and the oven temperature will need to recover.
  14. Let turkey cool 15-20 minutes before carving.

Click on picture  to see my video Spatchcock Turkey.DSC03493

Herb Butter for Turkey click to see recipe post.

What to do with scraps, you saved;(do not add gizzard, liver and heart to broth) see recipe post Turkey Bone Broth Miracle Food made from Turkey Trash!

Upside down Roasting

Roast turkey breast side down for the fist half of oven time, then flip.  Hot slippery bird!  Breast meat will be juicy and tender, and dark meat done nicely.  This procedure is recommended for the brined recipe that fallows.

Brined Turkey

Helps cheaper and drier/ older turkeys be more moist and tender.  Soaking turkey for 6 or so hours in a solution of salt water helps it retain moisture, and there for be more tender.  Do not use this method on self basting turkeys.

  • A sanitized container large enough to hold the turkey and water.
  • 1 lb. salt per lb. of turkey
  • 1 gallon of water per lb. of turkey

The first 3 items on this list can be a problem.  Proponents of this, swear by the results.

  1. Dissolve salt in water. (dissolve in a smaller amount of water then add to the rest)
  2. Remove packet from inside turkey.
  3. Rinse clean.
  4. Add turkey to brine and soak for around 6 hours.
  5. Drain turkey and pat dry.
  6. Place breast side down, on rack in roasting pan uncovered. “V” rack works best.
  7. Pre-heat oven on broil or highest temperature.
  8. Coat turkey with oil, butter or herb butter.
  9. Gently pour about a cup of liquid into the bottom of the pan.  White wine/ turkey or chicken broth/ water.
  10. Partially brown using broiler or oven’s highest temps,15 to 20 minutes.
  11. No need to open the door or move the turkey.  Reduce oven temperature to 300°-350°.
  12. When turkey is about half done, flip it to breast side up.  Grasp by neck and tail, use oven mitts, towels, or something to protect your hands, turkey is hot heavy juicy and slippery.  Try not to rip the breast skin, if any has stuck to the bottom of the roasting rack, carefully pry it lose before lifting turkey.
  13.  Roast until temperature probe in thickest part of breast reaches 160-165°, or 175° to 180° (not touching bone) in thickest part of thigh.
  14. When done, If skin hasn’t browned to your liking, give it a few minutes under the broiler until you like it.
  15. Let bird cool 15-20 minutes before carving.

Bag/foil

Encasing the turkey in an oven proof bag is steaming, not roasting.  If you go with that method, I recommend removing the bag for the last 1/3 of oven time for a roasted finish and browning.  A tin foil tent can also be used for this method, but it needs to be built up and supported so it doesn’t touch the skin.

Q & A

Q.  Don’t have a “V” rack, turkey is wobbling on flat rack?

A.  Build up the sides with wadded up foil, or oven proof clean rocks.

Q. Turkey is done, but skin not brown?

A.  Blast it under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully not to over do it.  If you have a torch brown it as you would an egg white meringue.

Q. Turkey too big for oven?

A. Spatchcock or Butterfly Turkey

 

Stuffing

Filling the cavity with a bread, egg, broth and meat based mix is not as popular as it once was.  Two reasons, it adds extra time for roasting and on some occasions created food poisoning.  The explanation I’ve read was because the temperature inside the middle took so long to get warm the stuffing spoiled before it could cook.  Stuffing extra fresh herbs are my preference inside the bird, they add flavor and aroma with out changing the roasting time.  Stuffing made in a side dish opens up more options, I like making one with  a butter crunch topping.

Now that I’ve presented the most basic recipe here is a list of some options and variation’s.

Spice it up:

  1. Rub turkey with oil and press in your favorite dry rub.
  2. Fill the cavity with herb bundles: parsley, sage, rosemary thyme, bay leaf, lemon verbena, tarragon, marjoram,  whole unpeeled garlic cloves, or what ever you like, just use some caution a few herbs such as rosemary can be over powering in excess.
  3. Make herb butter and gently insert under skin, careful not to tear. See recipe above.
  4. Rub a light coating of oil over the skin to help seal in juices and browning.
  5. For a time a popular recipe called for covering the turkey with butter seasoned cheese cloth.  My experience was a poor result, with some of the skin sticking to the cloth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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