How to Defrost and Roast a Turkey

Chef tells you how to defrost and cook that bird for your holiday feast.

BySara Moulton via via logo
November 18, 2009, 5:20 PM

Nov. 18, 2009 — -- Sara's Method for Roasting Turkey

1. If turkey is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator or a sink of cold water (see procedure below).

2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Arrange an oven shelf in the lower third of the oven. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity of the turkey, reserving them for turkey broth (see turkey broth recipe). Drain the juices and pat the bird dry inside and out.

3. If stuffing, stuff right before roasting (see basic stuffing recipe). Return legs to tucked position, if untucked.

4. Arrange the turkey breast side up in a rack (preferably a v-rack), set in a heavy large roasting pan. Melt a stick of butter and brush the turkey all over with one third of the butter. Season with salt and pepper and cover the whole turkey loosely with foil. Pour two cups of chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and roast the turkey in the lower third of the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and baste with another third of the butter. Recover the turkey and roast until approximately half way through the total cooking time. Uncover the turkey, baste with the remaining butter and roast, uncovered, until a thermometer when inserted in the thickest part of the leg thigh joint reaches 165 F.

5. Transfer the turkey to a platter, leaving the drippings in the pan for the gravy (see gravy recipe) and cover the turkey loosely with foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes, preferably 30 minutes before carving.

Defrosting a turkey

1. In the refrigerator: Thaw the turkey breast side up, in its unopened wrapper in the refrigerator. Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey

2. In the sink: Thaw the turkey breast side down, in its unopened wrapper, in enough cold water to cover it completely. Change the water frequently to keep the turkey chilled. Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey.

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