If you’ve ever tasted a brined turkey, you know it’s fabulous. But if you’re not brining, here’s how to make and carve the Simplest Turkey.
Every year, my dad and I are in charge of the turkey. And while every year brings a unique variation, this is the basics of what we do.
As to carving? That’s my dad’s job. He’s great. Me? Not so much. He still prefers his electric knife. But we’ve included a video below from the New York Times on how to simply carve a turkey using a 6-inch knife.
How to Make the Simplest Turkey
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pull the neck and giblets out of the cavity; discard the liver and save the rest of the giblets for gravy.
Dry the turkey with paper towels, then season inside and out with salt and pepper. Fill the turkey with aromatics like chopped onions, carrots, apples or citrus, and herbs, then place breast-side up in a roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Tent with foil and roast for 2 hours (for a 10- to 12-pound turkey; add an extra 15 minutes per pound for larger birds). Remove the foil, baste with more melted butter and crank the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roast for another hour or until the meat at the thigh registers 170 degrees F. Let rest while you make the gravy.
Best Fresh Herbs to Use When Cooking a Turkey
A handful of each or any of these herbs stuffed into in the cavity of the turkey is savory and delicious.
Or make a compound butter by pulsing 1 stick of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of each herb in a food processor. Let it run 1-2 minutes, or until everything is fully incorporated. Use this butter to rub over the turkey while cooking. Even better… do both.
Simple Turkey Roasting Tools
When you’re making the Simplest Turkey, you need very little equipment.
That being said, what we do use is:
(The following are affiliate links).
Turkey (of course)
Quality Roasting Pan that fits the size of your turkey
Electric Knife (dad’s choice) or
How to Determine if the Turkey is Done
Unsure of how to check if your turkey is done cooking by taking its temperature with a meat thermometer? It’s simple. Butterball suggests checking a few key places to know when your turkey is done.
1. Before cooking, if you have an oven-safe leave-in thermometer insert the probe from the top of the turkey (near the neck cavity) horizontally to the deepest part of the breast, making sure it’s not touching the bone.
2. Remove the turkey when it reaches 170°F. (If it’s stuffed, check the temperature of the center of the stuffing to make sure it’s cooked to 165°F).
3. If you don’t have a leave-in thermometer, check the turkey with an accurate instant-read thermometer 30-60 minutes before the estimated finish time, then about every 15 minutes thereafter.
How to Carve a Turkey
New York Times Ray Venezia, master butcher and Fairway Market meat consultant, shows how to carve a turkey.
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