This roast turkey is the recipe that I've used in over 25 Thanksgivings, and I can say that I've never had a problem... knock on wood.
This recipe is based on our family tradition, and I really haven't varied it. If you have your favorite way to roast a holiday turkey, then use it, because part of the holidays (at least to me) is tradition.
However, if you are looking for a simple flavorful way to cook a wonderful holiday turkey, and just maybe you're looking to start your own traditions, then give this one a try.
So, let's talk turkey...
Using your hand, starting at the rear (the cavity opening), separate the skin of the turkey from the breasts... push as far as you can and move into the legs.
Chef's Note: If you have large hands, you might want to use the handle of a wooden spoon to separate the skin from the flesh.
5Take the butter, and push the butter into the space between the skin and meat of the turkey, then using your hands on the outside of the turkey, massage the butter evenly under the skin, and as far up toward the legs as you can... Be careful not to break the skin.
6Chef's Note: While this is a lot of butter, once the cooking process begins... It will melt down into pan, and be a basis for an excellent baste and, at the end of the process, some awesome gravy.
7Take the juice from the oranges, and rub some into the cavity, and on the outside of the bird.
8Fill the bird with the stuffing, but be careful not to overstuff.
Chef's Note: The stuffing will expand as it cooks, so fill... don't pack.
9Chef's Note: I have a recipe that I use for stuffing that involves apples, breakfast sausage, bread, and apples... but use your favorite stuffing.
10Chef's Note: Some people are nervous about adding the stuffing to the turkey. To be honest with you, if you pay attention to cooking temperatures, you won't have a problem. However, if you choose not to stuff your bird, and instead place it into a pan, that's fine, but you will need to adjust the cooking temperature... Unstuffed birds cook faster.
11Sprinkle the top of the turkey with the salt, pepper, and paprika
Tuck the wings under the body, and use some kitchen twin to tie the legs together. In addition, I stitch the cavity containing the stuffing closed, but that's optional.
12Chef's Note: The reason that i stitch up the cavity containing the dressing, is that I don't want a lot of the butter or basting liquid getting into the dressing. I let the natural internal juices of the turkey keep the dressing moist, and stitching helps to keep the dressing from soaking up all the good baste and butter.
13Place the turkey into the pan... and add 1 cup of water.
Chef's Note: To get the best circulation, consider using a V rack inside the pan. Not only will this help to circulate air about the turkey, it will keep it from sitting in it's own pan juices.
14Drape the turkey with cheesecloth and place into a preheated 325f (163c) oven.
Cooking time on a 18-pound brined bird will be between 4 and 5 hours.
15Chef's Note: I baste the turkey every thirty minutes...
I use 1 cup apple juice with 1 cup dry white wine, as a starter baste.
After the first hour, the butter that you added to the turkey, along with some nice drippings will appear at the bottom of the pan as it cooks, and I use these along with my starter liquid to do the basting.
16The turkey is ready when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the breast reads 165f (74c) in the breast, or 175f (80c) in the thigh. If the bird is stuffed, be sure the center of the stuffing registers 165f (74c).
17Remove from oven, tent, and allow to rest for thirty minutes before carving.