A few years ago we purchased an expensive pasture raised turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. Like every cook, I wanted my turkey to be tender and not dry. I ended up under cooking my turkey by about an hour. The breast was fine, but the dark meat was like rubber and we had to re-cook it. It was not pleasant. A friend of mine asked me after our Thanksgiving weekend how our holiday went. I told her what happened and she said that her friends were telling her similar stories of turkey trials. She suggested this:
- Cook the turkey on the second to the bottom oven rack.
- When the turkey is turning brown on the surface (after about 1/2 way done, wrap the entire bird loosely in aluminum foil creating a roasting effect.
- Rub the bird in either avocado oil or melted butter with salt and pepper. Salt the inside cavity. I recently used Chef John’s idea from Food Wishes to infuse the butter with fresh rosemary and thyme from our garden. He suggested melting about 3 tablespoons of butter and throw the herbs in for a minute. Remove the herbs and rub the butter all over the bird. Salt and pepper after rubbing the oil on the bird.
- Remove the bird from the refrigerator (I let mine sit on the counter for 1 hour to get it close to room temperature) when I wake up on Thanksgiving morning. Remove all the gizzards rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Instead of stuffing, I recently roasted a turkey with fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and parsley, rough chopped celery, and onion in the cavity (loosely stuffed). I put it in the rear part of the bird under the flap of skin too.
- Bake breast side up at 325 degrees Fahrenheit at about 15 minutes per pound, but watch because ovens do vary in cooking. I cook my turkey to about 170 degrees in the thigh area of the bird. (The thermometer in the bird had popped out as it reached this temperature.) We used a roasting pan with a bottom rack to set the bird on while baking. In the past, we put some rough chopped vegetables of onions, celery, and carrots on the bottom and set the bird on top of them when not using a roasting pan with a rack.