Food & dining

How to roast a Thanksgiving turkey

Roast turkey.
Food styling by Sheryl Julian and Valerie Ryan; Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Roast turkey.

You need a meat thermometer and a pan large enough to hold the bird with space around it. A rack is not necessary. Set the bird on a bed of carrots and onions. While the turkey roasts, simmer the gizzard and neck in the stock for the gravy (do not use the heart or liver). Check the neck of the bird to make sure there are no giblets there. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 45 minutes before roasting.

1whole turkey (10 to 25 pounds), giblets removed from vent and neck ends
Salt and pepper, to taste
2onions, quartered
2lemons, quartered
1bunch fresh rosemary, chopped
1bunch fresh thyme, chopped
1bunch fresh oregano, chopped
4tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2tablespoons vegetable oil, or
more if necessary
2carrots, quartered
2cups water

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Remove the giblets from the neck and vent ends of the bird. Wipe the bird inside and out with a damp cloth. Sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper and tuck a handful of onions and lemon quarters into the cavity. Chop half the rosemary, thyme, and oregano. With your hand, make a pocket at the neck end between the skin and flesh. Tuck half the herbs into each side. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to each side.

2. Using your hands, rub the bird all over with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle it all over with the remaining herbs, pressing them into the skin. Set the remaining onions, lemons, and carrots in the roasting pan. Add the turkey. With kitchen twine, tie the legs to the bird. Add water to the pan.


3. Roast the turkey (see turkey roasting times here) until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160 degrees. You can roast the bird breast-side down and turn it right side up after 1 hour. Or roast it breast-side up, covering it with oiled cheesecloth or a loose foil tent after 1 hour. If the turkey reaches the right temperature sooner than expected (this happens often), remove it from the oven and set it in a warm place.
If it isn’t brown enough, turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last 20 minutes.

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4. Lift the bird from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes while you make gravy.  Sheryl Julian