The very first time I had to cook the bird for Thanksgiving, I was horrified. My grandmother had cooked it for years, in a brown paper bag, covered in cooking oil. That is all that I can remember about the way she cooked it. Hey, I learned the dressing recipe, not how to cook a turkey. Then, it was handed down to my mother, well, needless to say, I didn't learn anything there either. So, the first year, I was on my own, and with a house full of people coming.
Needless to say, I had nightmares the night before. I was going to over sleep or that when I took the turkey out of the oven it was still raw. However, none of those things happened. My turkey came out just beautiful and was rather tasty, if I say so myself.
I did a lot of research about how to cook a turkey and watched hours and hours of the food network. (I still love watching that channel, especially this time of year.) I have taken different things from different cooks - to finally come up with a recipe that I really like and have cooked this way for a couple of years. I hope you enjoy it.
1 Tbsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into large chunks
1 large lemon, cut into halves
1 bay leave
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of parsley
1 fresh or thawed turkey, (18 to 20 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, giblets & neck removed
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup of salted butter, melted
1/2 cup of white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
Preheat over to 425 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium sauce pan. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters, so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway down sides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and pepper inside turkey. Also, place onion, carrots, celery, bay leave, thyme, parsley, and lemon inside turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flop under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over and underneath the skin with softened butter; season with salt and pepper. (I also put a little thyme & parsley into the softened butter. You can also use sage)
Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into pan. Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2-1/2 hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly.
Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan. Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees. Transfer to a platter.
**My turkey is too big to put in my oven, legs first. So, I had to put it in lengthwise and didn't worry about rotating it. **