The Best Method For Roasting Turkey
Martha Stewart's Perfect Roast Turkey
I have tried many methods for roasting turkeys and instead of trying to come up with one that is different, but not better, I've decided to instead introduce you to the one I like best -- one published by Martha Stewart in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, in 1995.
The link to her recipe is at the bottom of this page.
This method is clear, practical and each precise step is there for a reason, like doing most of the roasting with the turkey's legs facing at the back of the oven where it's always a little hotter. If you don't already have them, you'll need three pieces of kitchen equipment: cheesecloth, an instant thermometer, and cotton kitchen or butcher's twine. If you're making a smaller turkey than the one in her recipe, just reduce the cooking time because you'll probably only need two to three hours (start checking at two hours total cooking time). And when testing for doneness, check that the thickest part of the thigh reads 170° to 180° with your instant thermometer.
Martha's recipe has you adding stuffing to the turkey but if you prefer to cook all your stuffing separately (or make none at all), not to worry. Just stuff the turkey with some sprigs of fresh herbs and perhaps a quartered lemon and garlic cloves instead of stuffing and also watching the overall cooking time as the turkey will be done sooner without the stuffing (this is logical -- there's just less to cook).
Two other tips: First, if you're not accustomed to buying wine to cook with or don't drink white wine (making the common advice of cook with what you'd drink not very helpful), purchase a bottle of inexpensive Pinot Grigio -- it's perfect for cooking with. If you don't use the whole bottle, just seal it well and refrigerate -- it will keep for weeks.
And second -- the cheesecloth. Purchase cheesecloth at a cookware or housewares store. Cut the length you'll need with a pair of scissors, saving what's left over for either a future turkey or else to cut into smaller pieces to make little packets of herbs and seasonings, often called bouquet garni (it's cheaper and better to make your own than buy them ready-packaged).
Before you soak the cheesecloth in the wine/melted butter, rinse the cloth in cool water and completely wring it out. This does two things: it rinses out any fibers or dust in the cloth and also it lets the fibers plump a little from the moisture so that when the cloth hits the wine and butter, it better distributes the mixture onto the surface of the turkey instead of soaking it up.