Roast Turkey

Wine recommendations: When he heard of my fondness for apples in the stuffing, Fisch suggested "a big, fruity Napa Valley Chard, not overly oaked, but buttery. It’s got some apple in it." He likes Franciscan’s Chard because it has great ripe fruit and is well priced between $14 and $18. For those who prefer red, he suggests a Beaujolais—"either a Nouveau leftover that you haven’t drunk yet, or a Beaujolais Villages like a Jadot."

  • 1 whole turkey (figure about 1 pound per person)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, olive oil or melted butter
  • Your favorite stuffing (if you like to cook it in the bird, use ½ cup per pound for turkeys under 10 pounds and ¾ cup per pound for turkeys over 10 pounds)

If your turkey is frozen, be sure to defrost it early, either in the refrigerator or in cold water (not on the kitchen counter at room temperature, where bacteria can grow). To thaw in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours per 5 pounds. If you are using the cold-water method, place the turkey, still in its package, in cold water to cover in a clean sink or deep pan. You might have to weight it down with a pot to keep it submerged. Change the water often to keep it cold. Allow 30 minutes defrosting time per pound. Be sure the bird is thoroughly defrosted before you begin to cook, or the outer meat will be roasted and the frozen interior will stay undercooked. You should be able to wiggle the leg joints of a defrosted bird.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the neck, giblets and any packaging from the neck and body cavities. Place the bird in a roasting pan, breast up, or on a roasting rack. Salt and pepper the inside of both cavities.

If you are stuffing the turkey, stuff both cavities lightly with hot stuffing; cold stuffing can promote bacterial growth. (And don’t even think about stuffing the bird ahead of time—another bacteria breeder. Do it just before you put the bird into the oven.) Fold the neck skin over the stuffed neck cavity and secure with a skewer. Tie the drumsticks together loosely with butcher’s twine or thread. If you wish, you can truss the wings by looping your string around the elbow joints, pulling the ends to the center of the bird and tying them together.

Rub the turkey all over with the oil or butter. Salt and pepper the outside. Wrap the breast loosely in foil and roast for 10 to 12 minutes per pound if the turkey is not stuffed, or 12 to 15 minutes per pound if it is stuffed. After the first 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F and baste. Continue basting every 30 minutes until done. Half an hour before the bird is done, remove the foil to allow the breast to brown.

To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh without touching the bone. It should register 180 to 185°F. The breast meat should register 160 to 165°F and the stuffing should be 160°F. If you do not have a meat thermometer, the juices should run clear and the drumstick should twist easily in its socket. The meat on the drumstick should feel soft.

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Remove the twine and skewer, spoon the stuffing onto a serving platter and carve.

Remove all stuffing from any leftover turkey and refrigerate the turkey for up to 4 days or freeze, securely wrapped, for up to two months.

Published on July 1, 2010