Food Editor's Note:
I do not make a whole turkey very often. I usually make turkey breasts, and roast them covered after an initial high-heat searing period. This produces a lot of natural juices to moisten the meat and use for a thickened gravy. But I decided we should have a roast turkey recipe on the web site for Thanksgiving, and so I read up on all the techniques, chose one, and prepared an early Thanksgiving dinner for my family.
My 11-pound turkey turned out beautifully and took only 1 1/2 hours to cook! I was totally amazed at this, as I had always thought turkey took hours and hours to prepare. The short time is no doubt due to the high-heat searing at the beginning (recommended by a Bon Appetit cookbook). It produced well-done skin and plenty of natural juices that did not have time to evaporate even though the bird was uncovered during the entire cooking time.
Roasting this turkey was so easy and quick and the result was delicious. I may have discovered a new main course to prepare throughout the year for my family!
10-12 pound turkey
2 tablespoons pareve margarine, oil, or chicken fat (I use this!)
Onion salt and paprika to taste (or other spices of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and remove the upper racks. Clean, rinse, and pat dry the turkey. Save the giblets, if any, for a turkey soup to be made from the carcass (see our Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup).
Spread the fat over the entire outer surface of the turkey. This will help keep the meat moist. Position the turkey breast side down in a V-shaped rack in a shallow roasting pan. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and turn the turkey on its side and roast again for 10 minutes. Remove and turn the turkey on its other side and roast once more for 10 minutes.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the turkey, baste with the fat, and season with the onion salt and paprika or your own choice of spices. Position the turkey in the rack breast side up. Return to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Baste with pan drippings. Roast for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes. Place the turkey on a carving board or just remove the turkey in the rack to another location. Pour the pan drippings into a gravy separator and remove and discard the fat. Reserve the natural gravy.
If not cutting and serving the turkey at this point, tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Once the turkey cools entirely, it needs to be refrigerated. When plating the sliced turkey, or just before serving, spoon some of the naturally gravy over the meat, especially the white meat. This will keep it moist and juicy. Serve the remaining gravy separately.
Be sure you save the carcass (you can freeze it!) to make a delicious turkey vegetable soup (Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup).
Yield: 8-10 servings