From America's Test Kitchen Season 6: Let's Talk Turkey
Unless you have access to multiple ovens, only a very large turkey will do when you’ve got a crowd coming to dinner. But finding a container large enough to brine a gargantuan bird can be tricky. And turning the bird in the oven, our usual method for evenly cooked meat, can be hot, heavy, and dangerous. We wanted the Norman Rockwell picture of perfection: a crisp, mahogany skin wrapped around tender, moist meat. And it had to be easy to prepare in a real home kitchen. We chose a Butterball turkey, which has already been brined for juicy flavor (a kosher bird, which has been salted, works well too). A combination of high and low heat resulted in a tender, juicy bird with deeply browned skin. We made the meat and pan drippings more flavorful with the addition of onion, carrot, and celery. A quartered lemon added bright, clean flavor. After roasting, we allowed the turkey to rest so the juices would redistribute, but didn’t tent it with foil so the skin wouldn’t become soggy. Serve with Giblet Pan Gravy for a Crowd (recipe follows).
Serves 20 to 24
You can use any roasting pan to roast the turkey, even a disposable one, but make sure to use a V-rack to keep the bird elevated. Be careful to dry the skin thoroughly before brushing the bird with butter; otherwise it will have spotty brown skin. Rotating the bird helps produce moist, evenly cooked meat, but for the sake of ease, you may opt not to rotate it. In that case, skip the step of lining the V-rack with foil and roast the bird breast-side up for the entire cooking time. Because we do not brine the bird, we had the best results with a frozen Butterball (injected with salt and water) and a kosher bird (soaked in saltwater during processing).