Perfect Roast Turkey – that’s what Ina Garten called her recipe on foodnetwork.com and I have to say I TOTALLY agree. I came across this recipe a couple of years back when I was searching for a delicious but quick and hassle-free roast turkey recipe, and have not looked at another roast turkey recipe since. Here’s a glance of the gorgeous bird (finally managed to take a picture of it before it was carved – no such luck last year). :D
Note the slight changes that I’ve made to the original recipe:
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 lemon, zested and juiced – I omit the zest
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 fresh turkey (10 to 12 pounds) – I normally use a frozen turkey, about 13 to 15 pounds, defrosted a few days ahead in the fridge
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 whole lemon, halved
1 Spanish onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (I preheat to 325 instead). Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the juice of one lemon (no zest) and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the melted butter. Set aside. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out (again something I omit – I would just pat the inside and outside dry with wads of paper towel). Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan (I use a half sheet pan with a large cooling rack placed in it). Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
Roast the turkey (I roast my turkey breast-side down, a technique I picked up from another blogger – Simply Recipes, which helps keep the breast meat moist) about 2½ hours (for a 14-pounder, I would roast for about 2½ hours, before turning it breast-side up, cover the wings with foil and roast for another half hour), or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh (to be sure, I check my turkey with a thermometer, and according to the USDA, a whole turkey is safe when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF). Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes. Slice the turkey and serve.