By Libbie Summers
Photography by Teresa Earnest
It’s really not that hard to have the perfect Thanksgiving star!
1. Start with the best bird you can afford…I always try to go organic and locally farmed.
2. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed. Click HERE for tips and times on safely thawing a turkey. Remove turkey from refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.
3. Preheat oven to 450° F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
4. Place turkey breast side up on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep. If you don’t have a roasting rack, use crumpled up aluminum foil in a circle under the turkey or roasting vegetables work great too, like carrots!
5. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving).
6. Rub room-temperature butter all over the turkey (I like it thick) and then salt and pepper generously. Don’t forget to salt and pepper the cavity of the turkey! Pour 2 cups of chicken stock into the pan.
7. Reduce heat in the oven to 350º F and place turkey in the oven.
8. The rule of thumb for cooking a turkey is 13 minutes per pound. However, some factors like brining the bird, cooking with an empty (un-stuffed) cavity, and leaving the legs un-trussed will contribute to much faster cooking. Plan on the 13-minute-per-pound rule, but start checking the temperature of your turkey about halfway through the scheduled cooking time to gauge how fast it’s cooking.
9. Every 45 minutes, remove the turkey from the oven, close the oven door (don’t let that heat out!), and baste the turkey all over. To baste, tilt the pan and use a turkey baster or spoon to scoop up the pan liquids and drizzle them on top of the turkey. Basting with pan juices cools the surface of the turkey and slows down cooking, which in turn keeps the breast meat cooking at close to the same rate as the legs and thighs.
10. Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in thigh and 165° F in breast or stuffing.
11. Let turkey stand a minimum of 15 minutes before carving.