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The Perfect Roast Turkey 30Nov08

Thanksgiving 2008
Now to clarify I can’t really claim it’s the perfect recipe for cooking a turkey, but it’s come out nice 2 years in a row without any complaints. Each time, I freak out about how long it’s taking and worry it’s not going to be done in time for dinner, but it always came out okay at the end. There’s a lot of people who don’t cook the turkey with stuffing in it, I like to cook it in because most people prefer the stuffing cooked in the bird.

Ingredients:
6-7 kilo/13-15 lbs thawed turkey (if you buy frozen, make sure you thaw it in the fridge for a few days)
5 sprigs of rosemary – leaves only, chopped fine
5-7 cloves of garlic – chopped fine
5 tablespoons sea salt – kosher would be better but I can’t find any so I went with pink sea salt flakes
5-6 tablespoons nice course ground pepper – fresh ground would be the best
6 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons of soft butter
4 cups of chicken or turkey stock – I couldn’t find turkey stock here, chicken works just fine
2 1/2 – 3 cups of stuffing (made and cooled to room temp)

preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C

Step 1: Prep the turkey
Unpack and wash the turkey in the kitchen sink. Take out the inside packet with all the giblets if yours comes with any. Apparently in Australia, they don’t come with guts. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. OKAY, now we’re ready to get dirty. Turn the bird breast side down first – rub the entire area with butter, garlic, rosemary, sea salt, pepper and drizzle some olive oil once you’re done. Make sure to get it in the little pockets. Now flip over and do the same with the breast side up. I try to tuck some butter underneath the skin on the breast. Make sure to season the inside of the turkey with heaps of sea salt, butter (yes rub it in!), pepper, garlic and rosemary. NOW, make sure you tuck the wings back so they don’t stick out and burn. Just use some muscle and tuck it behind the body. Put some butter in the pockets and folds around the leg and wings and we’re ready to stuff! Carefully spoon in the cooled stuffing in the cavity of the bird – do not over stuff – it will expand. Just enough to fill the bird loosely. Now take some cooking twine and tie the legs together – I like to tie the legs down to the butt as much as possible to get it nice and closed. Put one last drizzle of olive oil and you’re ready for the roasting. Should look a bit like this:
Thanksgiving 2008

Step 2: The roasting
Cover the legs with foil. Pour about 2 cups of turkey or chicken broth onto the pan – we’ll need this for basting. In it goes for about 20 minutes at 400°F or 200°C. It’ll start looking a little brown, now we turn the oven down to about 325°F or 180°C. Baste the turkey with the stock in the tray all on top, just a couple times and try to not let the heat escape the oven. Baste every 30 minutes and rotate the tray every hour. My oven is a bit uneven, even with the fan-forced on so make sure to rotate the bird to get it cooking evenly. At around the 3 1/2 hour mark, make a tent for the bird and continue roasting. It should be looking pretty good by now and we don’t want to burn the top. Make sure to check the bird with a thermometer in the breast, stuffing and armpit area. It should read around 180°F or around 80°C for the thickest part of the thigh. Stuffing should be around 150°F or around 70°C. It doesn’t have to be exact – if you have a trustworthy thermometer that tells you what’s best for poultry, go with that! You’ll be able to tell that it’s done when the juices runs clear when you cut into it.

Step 3: You wait
Once the bird is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a while before carving. Best to take out the roasting tray and turkey and put it on a cutting board so you can start on the gravy. But if you’re not serving for a while, it’s okay to let it sit in the tray, make sure you keep basting to keep it moist and cover with foil.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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