For poultry lovers, nothing is more delicious than well-seasoned turkey cooked in a roasting pan. There are two factors in favor of cooking a turkey in a roast pan. First, long slow cooking with herbs and spices adds flavor to the bird.
Second, it enables you to make use of boiling turkeys which are usually cheaper and have more flavor. You need to look at several things before roasting a turkey. These are:
- Size of turkey you need (1 ½ pound per person)
- Amount of starch or flour to add to the gravy to give it the right thickness
- The time needed to cook the turkey
- 12 Pound whole turkey
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly snipped rosemary, thyme, and sage
- ½ cup of flour
For the stuffing
- 1 ½ loaf of Italian bread (1-2) days old.
- ¼ pound unsalted butter
- 1 can sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup celery and celery leaves finely chopped
- Turkey liver (Place in boiling water for 5 minutes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup salted butter
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium or large onion
- ¼ pound salt pork thinly sliced
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
You should use a heavy roasting pan big enough to cook your turkey. The larger the turkey the higher the meat to bone ratio. The pan should also have a lid on. This is to ensure that the wings don’t dry out before the bread is cooked.
It is recommended to thaw your turkey for several days in the fridge before cooking. For instance, for every five pounds of frozen turkey, leave it in the fridge for a day. Ensure that you protect other foodstuffs in the fridge to prevent leakage from the raw turkey.
Also, you can thaw it in a cool room in your basement in case it does not fit in your fridge. In a situation whereby you bought the turkey the previous evening or you were not able to thaw it on time. Simply place it in a sink of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes.
• Preparing the dressing
Ensure that you prepare the dressing the night before until morning. It helps in the saturation of the aromatic spices in the dressing mixture. The flavors will be improved while it roasts. For the dressing, mix half a cup of unsalted butter, finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and sage. Refrigerate overnight.
• Preparing the stuffing
Soak the bread and squeeze all water out immediately. Render out salt pork, add celery and onions. Then allow to cool after butter is added. Add bread, parsley walnuts chopped liver, and all seasoning. Refrigerate until time to roast the turkey. When you are ready to roast the turkey add eggs and mix.
- In the morning take the turkey out of the fridge. Start by removing the neck and giblets bag from the inside of the turkey. Store this in the fridge for making stock later.
- Rinse the turkey in the sink under cold running water and pat dry. Spread salt thinly under the neck skin and inside the turkey cavity. Loosen the skin over the turkey breast with your hand. Rub half of the butter underneath the skin. Use the other half to rub the outer skin for better flavor and tenderness.
- Pour a ¼ cup of butter inside the cavity. Fill up the cavity of the turkey with the prepared stuffing. Tie up the legs with twine to keep the stuffing inside the bag. Alternatively, you can Lace or pin openings securely.
- With the breast side facing up, place the turkey inside the roasting pan on top of the roasting rack. Add water up to the top of the roasting pan. This ensures that the bird does not dry up in the process.
Moreover, meat juices will be suspended at the bottom of the roast pan. This will give you a head start when making the gravy. Cover with a lid and put it in the oven. There is no need to baste the turkey. The lid cover will help maintain an even temperature throughout the cooking.
- Put the oven temperature at 325 – 400° F. The higher temperatures should be left for the first 30 minutes to sear the bird and seal in the juices. Allow 20 minutes per pound of stuffed turkey during cooking time. Therefore, it will take roughly 4 hours to cook a 12-pound turkey and 5 hours for a 15 pound one.
- Insert the instant-read meat thermometer deep into the largest part of the thigh to check whether it is done. Check its progress one hour before it is supposed to be ready. The thigh will be 180 degrees Fahrenheit and the breast will be 170° F when done.
- Remove it from the oven when ready. Place it on a carving board and let it rest. For the gravy measure out one third to a half cup of gravy per person. Transfer all the turkey drippings to a saucepan if your roasting pan is not suitable for stovetop use.
- Add one cup of cold water to the amount of starch or flour needed as per your gravy recipe. Whisk the mixture with a fork till you get a smooth paste. Pour the paste into the saucepan. Add the water while beating the mixture with a whisk.
- Start the burner and cook the gravy on medium heat while whisking. As the gravy thickens and starts to bubble, stop whisking. Transfer it to a gravy-bowl or a container with a spout. Remove the dressing from the turkey cavity and serve it as a side dish. Break it up to loosen the lumps.
Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle parsley. This dish serves up to 5 people. For people with allergies, the dressing can be prepared separately and served as a side dish.
The reason for this is that some turkey dressing may contain, eggs, bread, and nuts which may not be taken by allergy-prone people.