This is THE BEST roast turkey recipe because it is extremely easy, incredibly delicious, it keeps the turkey moist & tender, and, most importantly,...it never fails me! My mother made this for our large family (9 kids) every Thanksgiving. I truly think that watching my mom make this special meal was my first inspiration to want to learn to cook.
I starting hosting Thanksgiving 9 years ago right after my Dad passed away. I wanted the meal to be perfect and called my mom for her recipe. I had seen her prepare the turkey so many times as a kid but I figured there must be more to it. She told me the couple of steps and I thought --really, that's it? Yep, super easy.
I hope you make this for your family. xoxo
Mary's Roast Turkey
1 Turkey (I prefer fresh, free-range and one that is not too large. Anything over 20 pounds is just too big!) If you are using a frozen turkey you need to thaw it before following this recipe.
4 sticks of unsalted butter
1 to 2 packages of cheese cloth (depending on the size of your turkey)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the Turkey on a non-stick rack in a large roasting pan. Salt and pepper the cavity and outside of the bird and stuff the bird with herb & shallot stuffing or any homemade stuffing. Tie the legs together if you like but it is not necessary.
Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat. Put all the cheesecloth into the melted butter and completely soak the cheese cloth. Apply butter-soaked cheese cloth to the turkey to cover...no need to be exact but it should be two layers of cheese cloth not just one.
Place turkey into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Use a baster to baste the turkey with the butter and drippings --every half hour or so. Turkey will take several hours depending on the size of your bird (expect 13 to 15 minutes per pound).
Check to determine if turkey is done by using an instant-read thermometer or if the leg moves easily then it is done! To properly check the temperature of a turkey stick an instant-read thermometer in the meatiest part of the thigh. This is a part of the turkey that cooks the slowest and is also one of the thickest. If it's at the right temperature, you can be sure the rest of the turkey has also finished cooking. The thermometer should be 160-165 degrees.
Remove turkey from oven. Peel off the cheesecloth (will come right off without sticking!) and use a large spoon to remove stuffing. Tent turkey with large piece of foil for about a 1/2 hour. This allows the juices to redistribute and also continues the cooking a bit.
The result is a beautiful bird with golden brown crispy skin. Perfection!