We’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year which means we’ll be dusting off our favorite turkey recipe and bringing smiles to the table. I’ve always been impressed with Alton Brown ever since getting hooked on the show Good Eats. His turkey recipe has never let me down!
Whether you’re cooking your first turkey this year or tired of complains of a dry bird, use my steps on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and you’ll hear endless complements over dessert.
The two key parts that makes this a no fail recipe is to start the turkey in a super hot oven (500 degrees) for half an hour and then go low and slow for the rest of the time. Use a leave in probe thermometer (inserted after the oven temperature is bumped down) to get an accurate read on the turkey meat, then you’re not cutting into the bird and discovering it needed more time to cook.
I use a frozen turkey which has already been brined so I cut out the brining steps, making it possible to cook a 14 pound turkey in under three hours. Easy!
Here’s the link for the full recipe but the simplified version I’ll be using is as follows:
Alton Brown’s No Fail Roasted Turkey (with Judy’s modifications)
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the aromatics:
1 red apple,
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
2 to 3 days before roasting move the turkey from the freezer to the fridge for defrosting.
Set the oven rack on the lowest rack (remove the second rack if you have it) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Remove the bird from all packaging and rinse inside and out with cold water (don’t forget to fish out the innards packet).
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage.
Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest rack of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Place an aluminum foil “tent” over just the breast portion of the bird to help prevent drying and over cooking the breast meat while the exposed dark meat has a chance to fully cook.
Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F.
Return the turkey to the oven and go work on eating a cheese ball, preferably with your feet up and a beverage in hand.
A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.