Holiday Roast Turkey
The key to the perfect holiday turkey starts with math. We’ll try not to make your head hurt but you may need a cup of coffee to get through this.
In order to determine how big of a turkey you need to buy, you need a head count. I understand that for some families getting a firm commitment from relatives may be like pulling teeth. Once you have your “guestimate,” the general rule of thumb is to figure 1 to 2 pounds of turkey per person. It really all depends on how much leftovers you want to wind up with for both yourself and your guests.
Fresh or Frozen?
How much room do you have in your freezer and how many days do you have left until the holiday? If you buy a frozen turkey, the number of days you will need to properly thaw it in the fridge will be based on the weight of the bird. I like to allow for an extra 12 to 24 hours of refrigerator thawing just to be sure the turkey is thawed. (Yes, I’m paranoid). If your fridge is more packed as it typically is during the holidays, it will stay colder.
To Stuff or Not to Stuff?
This is a matter of personal preference. The important thing to understand is that this decision impacts your cooking time. Personally, I like to do my stuffing separately. Some will argue stuffing outside the turkey is no longer stuffing, it's dressing.
Check out the handy-dandy thawing and cooking charts in the recipe below.
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Preparation Time15 min
Preparation Time - Text15
Cooking Time - TextDepends on Size of Turkey (See Chart)
- Turkey (Size depends on your needs)
- Prepared stuffing (if using)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 stick Butter
- 1 Bunch of Sage
- 1 Bunch of Thyme
- 1 Bunch of Rosemary
- 1 tablespoon to 2 Canola Oil
Refrigerator Thawing Guide
Leave the turkey in its unopened wrapper and place it breast side up on a tray to thaw it in the fridge.
NEVER THAW AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.
Preparing the Turkey
Remove the wrapper and any packaging containing the neck and giblets. (I boil the giblets in a few inches of salted water in a Swiss Diamond saucepan for about 15 minutes, allow them to cool and then the dog scores his holiday feast.
I rinse the juices off the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
If you’re stuffing the turkey, stuff the neck cavity and body cavity. I don’t stuff, but I do place a stick of butter, a lemon cut in half and a handful of fresh herbs (sage, thyme, and rosemary) inside the cavity.
Place your prepared turkey in a Swiss Diamond Roasting pan. Lightly spray or brush a thin layer of cooking oil over the outside of the turkey, coating the skin and season with salt and pepper.
Place the turkey in a preheated 325°F oven and roast according to times outlined below:
To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the thigh. The turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 180°F. If you stuffed your turkey, the stuffing should reach a temperature of 160°F.
Let the turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.