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Still looking for a turkey recipe?

Andrew Scrivani

Andrew Scrivani

I know this is the year when everyone is saying just stick the darn thing in the oven. But this is the technique I go back to time and again. Gobble.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

John Kessler’s Upside-Down Turkey

Makes 18 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3-3 1/2 hours
Standing time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, divided
  • 1 (18-pound) turkey, fresh or thawed
  • 3 or 4 branches fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Position oven rack in lowest position and preheat to 325 degrees. Remove the turkey from the fridge and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Reserve turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat turkey skin dry. Place thyme, garlic and onion in turkey cavity and season well with salt and pepper. Turn turkey on its breast. Fold wings behind back or tie to body with kitchen string. Place drumsticks in hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.

Brush breast-side-up turkey all over with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Place turkey, breast side down, on V-shaped rack in roasting pan. Brush all over with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast turkey for 2 hours. Remove roasting pan from oven, and using wads of paper towels or turkey lifters (gadgets that look like small pitchforks), turn the turkey breast side up and place back in the V-shaped rack. Baste well with pan juices. Baste every 15 minutes and cook for about another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees. (See note.)

Transfer turkey to large serving platter and let stand at least 20 minutes before carving.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I roast the turkey only until the thermometer reads 165-170 degrees. Though the USDA does not recommend this practice, many experts say that an unstuffed turkey is pathogen-free by the time this temperature is reached. You can find a good discussion of this issue, bolstered with independent tests, in “The Cook’s Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry” (Potter, $32.50).

Per serving: 376 calories, 48 grams protein, 18 grams fat (percent calories from fat, 44), 1 gram carbohydrates, 145 milligrams cholesterol, 136 milligrams sodium, trace fiber.

One comment Add your comment

Baltisraul......

November 27th, 2013
12:51 pm

John…..I was under the assumption that the cooking temp was changed in 2006 by the USDA to remove at 165 degrees and cover 15-30 min till temp reaches about 170 degrees. We will put our turkey in a ice chest, in a clean pan, cover w/ tin foil and then wrap bath towels around the bird for 15 – 30 min. It hardly loses any heat as the steam still rises as you are carving.