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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Quick and Easy Cooking" with Bruce Tretter

Stress-Free Roast Turkey


1.  This is the easiest, fastest, and most stress-free way to roast a turkey weighing up to 15 pounds that I know (most turkeys sold weigh 12-14 pounds). It requires using HIGH heat (450 degrees), roasting the turkey breast side down until the last 30 minutes of cooking (to preserve the moisture and tenderness of the low-fat breast meat) and NOT filling the turkey with stuffing, which otherwise only adds mores cooking time and causes the meat to dry out.

2.  I HIGHLY recommend using an ovenproof meat thermometer to ensure safe cooking doneness. They’re inexpensive and very easy to use. I avoided buying one for far too long until a butcher who has provided excellent advice very kindly suggested recently I’d be making a mistake otherwise. I listened - and obeyed - and haven’t looked back since.

Fridge to Finish Time: Plan about 4 1/2 - 5 hours to prepare a 12-15 pound turkey as follows: 1 hour to let the turkey warm at room temperature for more even cooking, about 2 – 2 ½ hours to roast at 10 minutes per pound (using the HIGH oven heat method mentioned here), and at least 30 minutes after roasting to let the turkey rest before carving.

(for at least 12 people)

12-15 Pound Turkey
Cooking Spray
Garlic Salt or Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper


Paper Towels
Roasting Pan
Roasting Rack (optional but keeps the turkey out of the fat as it cooks)
Large Fork
Sharp Knife
Large Cutting Board
Ovenproof Meat Thermometer

1.         Note the weight of the turkey on the packaging label, and calculate the total cooking time in minutes by multiplying the weight of the turkey in pounds by 10 minutes per pound. (I recently cooked a 12 1/2 pound turkey. I discounted the half pound and then multiplied 12 by 10 for 120 minutes or 2 hours total cooking time.)

2.         Take the turkey out of its packaging in the sink. Remove the giblet bag and neck, stored individually or separately in either or both the hind or neck cavity. Then use a sharp knife to cut away excess skin at the top of the turkey’s neck, if necessary.

3.         Rinse the inside and outside of the turkey, and pat it dry with paper towels.

4.            Put a roasting rack (optional) in a roasting pan, and spray both the rack and pan
with a light, even coat of cooking spray to make cleanup later a lot easier.

5.         Stand the turkey in the roasting pan, and add a good shake of garlic salt, Italian Seasoning, paprika and ground black pepper first on the inside and then outside of the turkey starting with the breast side and finishing with the bottom of the turkey facing up toward you.

6.         Leave the turkey breast-side down in the pan to rest at room temperature for 1 hour to allow for more even cooking

7.         After 1 hour, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

8.          When the oven temperature reaches 450 degrees, put the turkey in the oven,
and set a timer for 30 minutes less than the total cooking time. This will be the number of minutes the turkey will cook breast-side down. (As noted in step 1, the total cooking time for the turkey I roasted recently was 120 minutes. I subtracted 30 minutes from the total cooking time and set the timer for 90 minutes or 1 hour and 30 minutes.)

9.            When the timer sounds, CAREFULLY use potholders or folded dish towels to
remove the breast-side down turkey from the oven. Then CAREFULLY use a large fork and large knife (or kitchen utensils of your choice) to lift and turn the turkey breast-side up. (If you’re using a roasting rack, you’ll notice rack marks on the breast, but don’t worry, those will fade during the last 3o minutes of breast side up roasting.) If you’re using an ovenproof meat thermometer, insert it in a thick section of breast meat next to the thigh muscle WITHOUT touching any bone.

10.        Put the turkey back in the oven, and set a timer for 30 minutes.

11.          When the timer sounds, CAREFULLY remove the turkey from the oven with
potholders or folded dish towels and check it for doneness. Turkey meat is safely cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees and the breast meat is white and leg meat grey throughout with no runny red liquid. If, however, the temperature on your meat thermometer (if you’re using one) is less than 180 degrees or any of the meat is still red or pink with red runny liquid, keep cooking the turkey until the meat is done as mentioned above.

12.       When the turkey is safely cooked, transfer it from the roasting pan to a
cutting board, and let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes both to let the meat juices inside settle and make the turkey safer to handle before carving.

And that’s all there is to roasting a fantastically, flavorful and tender turkey with as little stress as possible!

For visual help with this recipe, you can get complete step-by-step picture book directions by visiting the Gotta’ Eat, Can’t Cook site at  Just click the “Chicken & Turkey” button from the banner in the middle of the homepage. Then, click the picture of “Stress-Free Roast Turkey” for a free PDF.

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