Christmas dinner is a team effort at our house. Everyone gets an assignment and the other kibitz; it's all in good fun. This year my assignment was preparing the protein - yep, a 16 pound turkey.
I had a good idea about how I wanted to do the job but everyone else confidently, as usual, had a different point of view. Suggestions included, roast breast down, roast breast up, stuff and don't stuff, butter rub under skin, roast fast and quick, roast low and slow. I decided I was going to include all the suggestions - just for fun.
After removing the giblet packet and cleaning the bird, I dusted it inside and out with salt and pepper and let it rest overnight. Later, while it rested for a couple of hours at room temp., I prepared a medley of chopped celery, onions, garlic, thyme, and sage and wrapped it in cheese cloth before pushing it into the cavity. Next step was to inject it with half a stick of melted butter and herbs at various key points overall and roast it breast down and uncovered at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Then I turned it over, breast up, basted it and tented it with heavy duty foil. I reduced the oven temp. to 325 and returned it to the oven for two hours, basting every 30 minutes. Then I removed the tent, cranked the oven up to 425 for 30 minutes, before re-tenting it and reducing the temp. to 275 until it reached its finished temp.
While dodging the slings and arrows of criticism, I rested the bird for half an hour before carving and serving. Results - fantastic. Golden brown, moist and flavorful. Perhaps the best turkey I've ever prepared.
Moral of the story = there are no firm fast rules for preparing a turkey. In the end, it's a surprising forgiving process.
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