Roast turkey

November 19, 2007

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Before cooking, check this chart for roasting and thawing times for your bird.

1 turkey (10 to 30 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 carrots, each cut into 4 pieces
2 stalks celery, each cut into 4 pieces
2 onions, quartered
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or more if necessary
Cheesecloth (for the bird)
2 cups water
1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Have on hand a roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey with space at the sides. If the pan has a rack, set the rack in the pan.

2. Remove the giblets from the vent end or the neck flap of the bird.

3. If stuffing the bird, do it now, packing the stuffing in loosely. If not stuffing the bird, use a spoon to sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity and tuck 4 pieces of carrot, 4 pieces of celery, and 4 onion quarters into the bird. In either case, use kitchen twine to tie the turkey legs together.

4. Rub the skin of the turkey with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer the bird to the rack, breast side up. Cut several layers of cheesecloth about the size of the turkey. Use oil to lightly moisten the cheesecloth. Lay the cheesecloth on the bird like a blanket, so it covers the breast and legs. Scatter the remaining carrots, celery, and onions around the pan (put all the vegetables around the bird if you stuffed it). Pour the water into the pan at the edges.

5. Roast the bird for 20 minutes.

6. Turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees. Continue roasting (see chart for times) until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh for 15 seconds registers 165 degrees. The center of the stuffing should reach 165 degrees, too. If you pierce the thigh with the tip of a knife, all the juices that come out should be clear. During roasting, if the liquid in the pan has evaporated, add more water to the pan. If the top of the bird looks too brown, cover the bird loosely with foil. If the meat reaches the cooked temperature earlier than you're expecting it to, remove the bird from the oven.

7. Let the turkey sit in a warm place for 15 minutes before carving. Use the juices in the pan to make gravy (see right). If the turkey is stuffed, remove all the stuffing from the cavity before carving. Sheryl Julian

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