Good Morning America Recipes

Julia Child's Roast Turkey

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

GMA Recipes Dinner
Servings:Over 8
Difficulty: Difficult
Cook Time: min

After 40 years in the kitchen, Julia Child has earned her celebrity chef' s apron many times over. And when it comes to holiday favorites, the French-trained kitchen wonder has some simmering suggestions.

She cooked up some of her specialties on Good Morning America. She also has some holiday specialties, including a roast turkey recipe. And be sure to try her Zucchini au gratin, her Mixed Salad Greens, or her Shrimp in Lemon and Garlic, all from her new book, Julia' s Kitchen Wisdom. But first, the holiday bird.


  • Turkey
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Lemon (to season turkey cavity, if desired)
  • Butter
  • Port or madeira
  • Cooking Directions

    Defrosting Frozen Turkey

    Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. A 20-pound bird takes 3 to 4 days to defrost in the refrigerator, about 12 hours in a sinkful of water. Warning: Do not stuff your turkey in advance, since the stuffing could start to sour and spoil inside the bird — goodbye, happy holidays.

    Servings: Count on 1/2 pound of turkey per serving, or 1 pound per person, with leftovers. Roast at 325 F (or see below for high- temperature roasting).

    Cooking time: For unstuffed birds: 12 to 14 pounds, about 4 hours; 16 to 20 pounds, about 5 hours; 20 to 26 pounds, about 6 hours. Add 20 to 30 minutes in all for stuffed birds.

    Internal temperatures: 175 F at the thickest portion of the leg; 165 F in the breast; 160 F in the center of the stuffing. Stuffing amounts are 1/2 to 3/4 cup per pound of turkey, making roughly 2 to 2 1/2 quarts of stuffing for a 14 to 16 pound bird.

    Child says that she prefers a flavoring in the cavity (salt and paper, and a thinly sliced lemon, a small onion and a handful of celery leaves), rather than a stuffing and she cooks the stuffing separately. Make turkey stock with the neck and scraps (see Turkey Stock recipe below). Save the liver, heart, and gizzard for giblet gravy (See Giblet Gravy recipe below).

    To prepare the turkey for roasting, cut out of the wishbone and cut off the wing nubbins.

    Skewer the neck skin to the backbone, and skewer or sew the cavity closed or close it with foil.

    Rub the turkey with salt and vegetable oil.

    Roast breast up on an oiled rack, basting rapidly every 20 minutes or so.

    Start testing rapidly for done-ness 20 minutes before the estimated roasting time- and note that a sure indication of approaching done-ness is that turkey juices begin to exude into the pan.

    Turkey Stock

    Simmer the turkey neck and scraps in enough water to cover them, skim off scum that rises to the surface for several minutes, then salt very lightly.

    Cover loosely and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding water if necessary.

    You may also wish to include chopped onions, carrots, and celery.

    Strain and degrease.

    When stock is cool, cover and either refrigerate for several days or freeze.

    Giblet Gravy

    First make a simple sauce, as follows. Have the turkey bones chopped or sawed into 1/2 inch pieces, and brown with a little oil in a heavy pan with a chopped carrot, onion and celery stalk.

    Sprinkle on a tablespoon of flour and brown, stirring for a minute or two.

    Add a chopped plum tomato, spices, turkey stock, and water to cover.

    Simmer slowly, loosely covered for two hours, adding more liquid as needed. Peel the gizzard and add it to simmer with the rest of the ingredients, removing it after about an hour, or when it is tender. Mince it. Sauté the heart and liver briefly in butter, mince them, and add to the finished sauce along with the minced gizzard, simmering for several minutes and adding, if you wish, a spoonful or so of dry port of Madeira. Strain, degrease and boil down to concentrate flavor.

    High-Temperature Roasting

    In Child's high-temperature roasting system, you start the roasting at 500 F, and in 15 to 20 minutes, when the juices begin to burn, reduce the heat to 450 F.

    Next, add chopped vegetables (1/2 cup of chopped carrots and 1/2 cup chopped onions) and 2 cups of water to the pan, pouring in a little more water now and then as needed to prevent burning and smoking.

    A 14- pounder will roast in about 2 rather than 4 hours. High heat makes a brown and juicy turkey, but you have little control in such a hot oven, and Child thinks the slower, longer cooking produces a more tender bird.

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: turkey, port

    Course: Main Course, Dinner

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