We haven’t had a dry turkey in our house for 8 years. And we only spend two hours on each turkey. Forget Grandma Gertie’s old traditional recipe. YOU HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN TO BABYSIT A BIRD FOR 7 HOURS.
This recipe was made famous YEARS AGO by Chef Marc of San Francisco. The Safeway chain of grocery stores took it and made their own “Two-hour Turkey recipe.” You can find those recipe pamphlets at any west coast Safeway. It’s just a stolen version of Chef Marc’s. Either way, this is how we’ve saved hours in the kitchen for eight years, and have never eaten a dry bird since. It’s also the reason that people keep asking us to make the turkey every year.
It’s also got a 5-star rating on Food.com.
Follow all the directions! Bon apetit!
Let the Turkey come to room temperature before starting. Cold, refrigerated turkey takes longer to cook!
– Dry a 12 to 16 lb. turkey inside and out with paper towels. BE SURE TO GET IT AS DRY AS YOU CAN. (For a 20 lb. bird, add another 20 minutes to the cooking time, but be sure to check on it!)
– Oil the turkey inside and out with any kind of vegetable oil (olive, canola, etc.) using your hands. – Cut away any excess skin around the opening of the cavity (<–that’s important), and wedge a fork or spoon inside the cavity. Leave the fork in. That’s right, use a fork to prop open the cavity, and leave it there. This will allow heat to get to the backbone and quicken the cooking process.
Why? Heat cooks. Opening the cavity will allow the heat to cook the bird from the inside as well as the outside.
– Rub spices, herbs, or just pepper all over the bird with your oily fingers.
Why? Herbs and spices create a crust on the skin that seals in the flavor and juices. Dan even places spices and herbs under the skin, on the meat.
– Place the turkey ON A RACK, (BREAST SIDE DOWN is recommended, because the juices flow downward. Dan places it this way, I place it breast side up because it looks nicer when it’s done. We haven’t noticed a big difference.) in a large metal roasting pan.
Why? The rack keeps the turkey from steaming on the bottom of the pan. Why metal? It conducts heat better than glass or ceramic.
Why keep it off of the bottom? Skin that is damaged by boiling water will blister and crack open. Liquid will escape. Sounds gross, but that’s what happens. Turkey has skin on the outside. When it’s sitting and cooking in boiling liquid and you keep basting it, guess what? You’re causing the skin to crack, and allowing the liquid to escape. Hence, cardboard turkey pieces.
– Loosely cover (more like “tent”) the top of the turkey, including legs and wings with greased foil or foil sprayed with Pam or a release agent so the foil will not stick to the turkey when you pull the foil off later to brown it.
Why? High heat can cook very fast. Loosely covering the top of the turkey will keep it from browning too quickly.
– Pour 3/4-inch of chicken or turkey broth into the bottom of the pan. As the turkey cooks, check the liquid every 45 minutes and add more in case it evaporates. DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS!
Why? This catches the juices and fat as they drip from the turkey so that they will not burn from the high heat of the oven and stick to the bottom of the pan. You will be able to use this liquid as a base for your gravy. Delicious!
– Cook the turkey at 450° to 475° for 2 hours or use the turkey timer. – Remove foil after 90 minutes so the turkey will brown. – Cook the turkey 20 – 30 minutes longer until an instant-read thermometer stuck deep in the thigh reads 155°. The residual heat will keep the turkey cooking for another 30 minutes. – Let the turkey rest at least 20 minutes before carving.
Why? Resting allows the meat to reabsorb its juices.
Four IMPORTANT rules for the perfect high-heat turkey:
1. DON’T SALT or use seasoned salt or any spice blend containing salt on the turkey before cooking. Salt is anhydrous; it will pull moisture from the turkey and dry it out!
2. DON’T LET THE BIRD TOUCH THE PAN You want to roast the turkey, not stew it. When the turkey sits on the bottom of the pan, instead of on a rack, or is squeezed into a too-small pan, the hot air is unable to envelop the turkey causing it to cook in its juices rather than in a high heat roast.
3. DON’T BASTE THE TURKEY!! It will break the caramelization, slow down cooking, and use up the great pan juices that have accumulated in the pan.
4. DON’T USE A FORK TO TURN OR CHECK THE TURKEY Piercing the meat will allow the flavorful meat juices to escape, thus DRYING out the turkey!
Okay, you’ve got the directions, now go and experiment before the family arrives. Cook one now and see how easy it is, and how deliciously juicy it tastes.
And then make me cookies or something like that because I just saved you five hours per turkey. FOREVER.
Happy Thanksgiving! ♥