How To Cook A Turkey In Less Time
How many times have you spent prepping and hovering over a turkey as it cooks for four to six hours, only to end up with dry white meat? If you’ve tried everything and no method seems to yield dark and white meat that are both tender and moist, guess what? You don’t have to slave over a hot oven all day and end up with a disappointing dinner. Here’s a recipe that will save you about two hours and leave you with perfectly tender turkey. Go ahead, suspend tradition, forget your family recipe, and come along on a timesaving, meat-pampering journey.
15- to 20-pound turkey, thawed
Fresh cracked pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
Butter for basting
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cut away the ribs and backbone of the turkey so you’re left with the whole breast with wings attached and the legs and thighs still connected to each other.
You can use the bones and residual meat to make a stock or gravy.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and olive oil over the breast, legs and thighs, gently massaging each piece so that they’re coated evenly.
Put the legs and thighs on a rack in a roasting pan.
Tuck the wingtips under the breast and position it breast side up in the roasting pan. No rack is needed for the breast portion. If you want to cook stuffing along with the turkey and keep it moist, pile it onto the roasting pan and place the turkey breast on top of it.
A note about roasting pan size: If you have a large roasting pan that accommodates the breast, legs and thighs, make sure to place a separate small rack under the legs and thighs without crowding the breast portion.
If you can’t do this with one large pan, don’t stress. You can use two roasting pans: one with a rack just for the legs and thighs, and one for the breast. Placing a rack under the legs and thighs will prevent them from sticking to the bottom and burning. The breast portion doesn’t need racking because the surrounding bones serve the same purpose naturally.
Roasting times will vary, but the whole turkey should cook in about three hours. (Normal cooking times for a turkey this size would be anywhere from four and a half to five hours.) Internal temperatures should reach about 165 degrees in both the breast meat and the thickest part of the thigh. Once each component reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the oven and put it on a serving platter to rest.
Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. This resting period allows the juices to retract back into the meat to keep it tender.
It’s not required that you baste the turkey, but it helps the skin from drying out and it does seep beyond the skin into the meat a bit. If you don’t want to be bothered by basting every 15 minutes, take 2 tablespoons of softened butter and spread it carefully under the skin before baking.
If during the baking time you see the skin burning or getting too dark, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
To store leftovers (if there are any) cut all the meat off the bone. That’ll make it easier for midnight snacking. Who’s hungry?