How to roast a turkey

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Roasting a tender, juicy, delicious turkey for your holiday feast is a skill everyone appreciates. Scott Cutaneo, who trained with the greats - Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Michel Guerard - is the chef-proprietor of the four-diamond (AAA) Le Petit Chateau in tony Bernardsville, N.J. Here's his simple recipe for how to roast a turkey.

How to roast a turkey Step-by-step turkey roasting guide:
  1. Add onions, celery and carrots to bottom of roasting pan, and then sprinkle a few sprigs of thyme over the vegetables. (You could put a rack on the bottom of the turkey, but we like to use different vegetable and herbal aromatics as a base for the turkey. It also adds flavor to the broth that is made by adding water to produce a great sauce or jus.)
  2. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables.
  3. Truss the turkey by wrapping the string around the back, crisscrossing and wrapping it twice around the legs, and then tying it under the neck.
  4. Tuck the wings under the body of the turkey. (Trussing and tucking in the wings keeps everything tight to the body of the bird, which produces a more evenly cooked bird.)
  5. Brush the turkey with the oil and butter mix. (This enables the salt and pepper to adhere to the skin, and it also helps keep the turkey moist, tender and tasty.)
  6. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
  7. Add two inches of water on the bottom to the roasting pan.
  8. For a 12 to 14 pound turkey, place in a 375 degree, preheated oven for a total of approximately three hours.
  9. After roasting the turkey for hour and a half, take the turkey out of the oven to see how the cooking process is going. To achieve a more golden brown, baste with some of the broth that has been pooling on the bottom from the stock of turkey and the vegetables. (It's important not to baste your turkey too much. You lose oven heat while you're basting, and it really doesn't add flavor to the meat — or make it more tender.) You just want to make sure the skin is golden brown.
  10. Put the bird back into the oven.
  11. After roasting at 375 degrees for another hour and a half, take it out of the oven and check the turkey's temperature. (Take the temperature at the back of the breast, and insert the thermometer all the way in, making sure it isn’t touching a bone, until the temperature reading stabilizes.) The ultimate goal is 165 degrees, but we want to remove the turkey from the oven sooner than that — at around 155 degrees — because all poultry will continue to cook when it's removed from the oven. You don't want an overcooked bird!
  12. Remove the roasted turkey from the oven and cover with aluminum foil so it doesn’t lose its heat, and continues to cook.
  13. Let your bird rest for around 45 minutes before serving and get ready to savor a perfectly cooked, tender, juicy, moist and delicious roasted turkey!
Transcript <!--StartFragment-->

Hi, I’m Scott Cutaneo for howdini, today we are going to be roasting a turkey. Here I have a brined turkey that has been brining for eight hours in salt water. We have to start with our ingredients; we have onion, celery, carrot, some thyme. We have some oil and butter mixture we’re going to baste on top to start. Some salt and white pepper and out trussing string, which we’re going to tie to make sure the extremities of the turkey don’t fray away and burn.

So first we’re going to take our roasting pan and add out onions. There are onions that are cut into two inch pieces. Normally, you would put a rack on the bottom of the turkey, I like to put different aromats, it will actually add flavor to the broth, which we add to the water to produce a great sauce or jue, as we call it. So here we’ll add our carrots and our celery, a little thyme. We’ve dried our turkey after the brining, so we’re just going to take our dry brined turkey and place it atop the vegetables, which we’ve just added. Now we’re going to truss our turkey. We’re going to take our string and put it under the back and we’re going to crisscross and wrap around the legs. So we’re going to wrap it twice around the legs, and then we’re going to tie it under the neck. Now we’re going to tuck in the wings, again this keeps everything tight together to try and reproduce a more evenly cooked bird.

At this point we’re going to oil and butter, I have a fifty percent oil and butter mixture melted. We’re going to brush it on our turkey. This is going to allow the salt and the pepper that we add to afterward to adhere to the skin of the bird. It also helps in the moisture of the turkey, and ultimately that’s what we want, a more tender, tasty bird. And now I’m going to add my salt, and the white pepper. And I’d like to add two inches of water on the bottom, that will help all the flavor from the bird with the vegetables, make a great broth. This is a twelve to fourteen pound bird. I suggest three seventy-five your cooking pre-heated oven, for around three hours. So I’m going to open my oven, and I’m going to put my bird in.

           So now we’re going to check our turkey, it’s been in the over for an hour and a half, we’re going to take it out and see how the cooking process has been going. Here we have a nice color, but we’re going to baste it to achieve a little bit more golden brown. So we’re just going to take some of the broth that has been pooling on the bottom from the stock of the turkey and the vegetables, and just pour it over top. Very important not to baste your turkey that much; 1. It looses the oven heat 2. It really has nothing to do with adding flavor to the meat. We just want to make sure the skin is golden brown. So we’ve achieved that, we’re going to put that back into the oven. So there you have it, we checked the turkey, we’ll check back another hour and a half, it should be finished.

I think the turkey is done, we’re going to check it, it’s been in the oven for three hours. We’re going to take, take its temperature. You always want to take the temperature on the back of the breast, let it sit in. Our goal is 165 F, we want to pull it sooner then that whether its turkey or any meat it’s just going to carry over, and we don’t want an overcooked bird. So we have around 155 F, our turkey is done. We’re going to put it on top of the stove, enjoy. I’m Scott Cutaneo for howdini.                       

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meet theexpert
  • Scott Cutaneo

    Scott Cutaneo Chef-Proprietor of Le Petit Chateau Chef Scott Cutaneo is the Chef-Proprietor of Le Petit Chateau. Le Petit Chateau and Chef Cutaneo have also been showcased on several major television networks. more about this expert »

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