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How to Roast a Succulent and Perfect Turkey

How to Roast a Succulent and Perfect Turkey

I have been hosting Thanksgiving 13 years and would really enjoy taking a year off from the Tom Turkey Project; however, there would be a gap.  I have my own way of prepping and cooking the famous bird and feel the need to share with my readers.

In the past, I always ordered and cooked the frozen turkey. Then a few years ago curiosity and a change of pace had me purchase a fresh bird and a good choice it was. The only problem is that a fresh turkey does not come with a lifter; hence, I created my own. See the illustration at the end of this article.

Items needed

70 inches of twine for make-shift turkey lifter
4 Sticks Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper
Carving Board with Moat (if possible). The moat is the recessed edges of the carving board that contains the juices while carving and makes for easy cleanup. 

Food Station
I always set up my kitchen table as the food station. This is where I place the leftovers in their respect servers after dinner. This allows everyone to chose their pickin's "to go". I usually provide the extra containers for my first-time guests but family usually brings their own. The best part of Thanksgiving Dinner is the leftovers. 

Thanksgiving Eve 
Remove giblets and anything that doesn't look right. Rinse the bird inside and out. I run a cup of warm salt water through the bird to ensure the insides are clean. 

Place in the refrigerator on a shallow pan and cover the bird with plastic wrap. This ensures freshness and keeps the bird moist.

Thanksgiving morning:
Remove bird from the refrigerator - rinse off the remaining juices, pat dry and allow to sit at room temp for at least 20 minutes

Preheat Oven 325 for 10 -15 minutes, depending on the speed of your oven.

Place the twine (makeshift turkey lifter) lengthwise on the roasting rack with ends hanging over the edges of the pan. (See illustrations below)

Please note: In the above illustration, it is better to make 2 or 3 center knots for the bird to lay on. This offers leverage.

Place bird on the roasting rack. Using one stick of unsalted butter, insert slices under the skin without ripping the skin from turkey and insert slices into the skin of the legs.  

Salt and pepper the bird, then use the remaining stick of butter to smooth over the entire bird. (You can nuke the butter just a tad for smoother coverage)

(Optional) Place the 2nd stick of Unsalted Butter inside the turkey to keep it moist while roasting or, use other ingredients (chopped onions, oranges, celery) in and around the turkey for added flavor.

Lastly, I pour a small amount of Swanson Low-Sodium Chicken Broth in the roasting pan. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. This prevents the bottom of the pan from burning. 

Now place bird in oven and let Tom do his thing. 
Microwave the remaining 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter in a small dish for a few seconds. This will be used to baste the bird every 45 minutes. I am old-school and find this method more rewarding for a moist and succulent bird. 

After 3 hours, check with meat thermometer – place on the highest, thickest part of the thigh w/o touching the bone / it must read 180. The last half hour of roasting, baste it one more time then cover the bird with foil. The top tends to brown faster.

Once the turkey is a deep, golden brown, remove from oven and place on top of stove to cool down for 30-45 min.  This helps contain the juices and make for a cleaner, neater carving.  

Optional: I use McCormick’s Low-Sodium Turkey Gravy. You can make your own, but this is faster and tastes just as good. The recipe calls for 1 cup of water but I add an extra one-quarter cup of water to cut the salt and give it a smoother taste. 


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