I don’t like any secrets, but keeping cooking secrets is ridiculous.
“I know how to cook, but I’m not going to tell you about it.” What kind of sense does that make? Think about saying “I love you baby, but I’m not going to tell you about it.” It will give you cramps and make you constipated. Let it out.
Sear: Once you dry (never wash; just dry) the bird, you can leave it overnight in the fridge uncovered to dry out, to help the skin stay extra crispy. Season inside and out with kosher salt, and sear the bird in a big, heavy frying pan that has been given a good spill of olive oil, over medium heat. If you are worried about a 25 pound bird not fitting in a pan, don’t make a 25 bird. Use 2 smaller ones instead–they will cook faster and won’t have as much time to dry
out in the oven.
Medium oven temperature: Never higher than 350 degrees. A bird likes to roast slowly.
Keep it simple: Here is my mix for a 12 pound bird (double it for 2 birds): 2 apples, each cut into four pieces, 1 onion, 2 heads of garlic cut in half horizontally, sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme, and one bay leaf. Shove the
herbs and garlic into the bird, and set the bird (once seared) into a buttered roasting pan. Add the onions and apples, and give it a good pour of delicious white wine.
Tie it up: You don’t have to, and there are a million ways of doing it, but wrapping the ankles together with a string is enough.
Keep the stuffing on the side: the turkey will cook faster and be safer. Bake the stuffing on the side in its own dish and then, if you like the stuffing in, then in the last half hour of cooking, shove the stuffing into the turkey.
Baste: and baste some more. Once you get the turkey in the oven, this is no time to abandon ship. Get the snacks out, sip on some Proseco, sit down and read the paper, but don’t leave the kitchen; you need to baste every 15 minutes. I know there are people out there saying every 30 minutes is enough. I’m telling you every 15. Use room temperature water until the turkey starts to make its own juices, and then use the pan juices.
Take it out on time: Cook the turkey to 155 degrees or when a small sharp knife, stuck in the thickest part between the leg and thigh is hot to your lip.
No freaking: This will just make you cry or stop you breathing properly. It’s only a turkey and with all the side dishes at Thanksgiving and all the gravy, you have plenty of room for error.