For our Christmas family dinner this year, we roasted a 12-lb turkey that turned out delicious. For the first time, we tried a new technique consisting of roasting the bird upside down (breasts down) and high-heat kickoff followed by a two step heat reduction while roasting (a total of 3 different temperatures are used). All you do is manage time and temperature – nothing could be simpler.
In the past, we’ve done brining and that works well to yield a moist bird. But the high-heat upside-down approach used here delivered just about the best, most moist turkey we’ve tasted – without the hassles of brining. Note: I kind of had to give up brining – my wife just can’t stand the thought of open bowls of water and poultry in our refrigerator – she sees salmonella dancing everywhere around! Besides, as she says, there’s never enough room in the ‘frig anyway at this time of year!
One minor cosmetic warning about this recipe: if you want golden brown skin, this recipe isn’t for you. You get golden brown skin alright – but on the bottom, not the top, of the bird! If all you care about is taste, then this recipe’s for you!
One other consideration: the temperature adjustments used here are terribly incompatible with cooking stuffing for an hour at 325 degrees. Do what a good musician does when presented with complexity: vamp!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare the turkey by coating it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put something in the cavity if so you’re inclined (onion, celery, rosemary, lemon, etc.) We left everything out this time.
- Place the turkey in its roasting pan breast-side down. If required (depending upon your pan and associated racks, etc.), use rolled up aluminum foil as a base for the turkey to keep it from falling onto its side.
- Roast the turkey for an hour at 400 degrees. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and roast it for another hour. For the final step, reduce the temperature to 225 degrees and use your thermometer to watch for the turkey being done (165 degrees in the breast, 170 degrees in the thigh).
- Remove the turkey from the over and let it rest 20-30 minutes before carving.That’s it. Enjoy!(Added: December 26, 2005)