Testing various cooking options, the method of cooking the turkey FIRST breast-side down allows juices to flow into the breast meat and eliminates dry turkey meat.
- One fully thawed turkey
12-15 pounds = 10-12 servings
15-18 pounds = 14-16 servings
18-22 pounds = 20-22 servings
TIP: It takes about 1 day per five pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. That means a 20-pound turkey can take four days to thaw in the fridge.
- 4 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
Special equipment – A roasting pan fitted with a v-rack (this allows the heat to circulate so the turkey browns on the bottom) and an instant-read meat thermometer (ditch the pop-up one that comes in the turkey, it will pop when the turkey is over cooked).
- Adjust your oven rack to lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees (425 degrees if roasting 18 to 22 pound turkey).
- Remove neck and giblets from cavity. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and tuck legs into the pocket of skin at the tail end (or tie the ankles together with kitchen twine). Tuck the wings under bird.
- Line the v-rack of your roasting pan with foil and poke several holes into the foil. Set the rack inside the roasting pan and spray the foil with cooking spray.
- Brush the breast and legs of the turkey with half of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Arrange turkey, breast-side down, on rack. Brush remaining butter over back of turkey and season with salt and pepper.
- With breast-side down first, roast turkey for 1 hour.
- Remove the turkey from the oven. (If roasting 18- to 22-pound turkey, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.) Tip the juices from the cavity of the turkey into the pan. Using clean pot holders or kitchen towels, carefully flip the turkey breast-side up.
- Put the turkey back into the oven and roast until the breast meat registers 165 degrees and thigh meat registers 175 degrees – about 1 hour for a 12 to 15 pound turkey, 1 hour 15 minutes for a 15 to 18 pound turkey, and 2 hours for an 18 to 22 pound turkey.
TIP: To get a temperature reading on the breast meat, insert the thermometer at the neck end of the turkey, holding it parallel to the bird. To get the temperature reading on the thigh meat, insert the thermometer between the breast and the drumstick into the thickest part of the thigh (stay away from the bone).
- Transfer to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.