It's not hard, honest. As a matter of fact, roasting a turkey is very, very easy. If you've been told it's hard, you've been bamboozled.
- You need a large pan either with a loosely fitting lid or a piece of aluminum foil.
- You need an oven.
- And you need a turkey.
The recipe? First, thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for two to three days, depending on the size. Remove the giblets the day before and boil them to make dressing and/or giblet gravy.
Plan on about 30 minutes per pound for falling off the bone, deliciously baked turkey, although most labels say 20 minutes per pound. Suit yourself, but if you go for 20 minutes, plan on having to leave the turkey in the oven an extra half hour to an hour.
Stuffing a turkey is frowned upon any more, although you may do it if you're careful. A stuffed turkey will take more time to cook all the way through, so plan on an extra hour. Otherwise, put the stuffing, covered, in the oven an hour and a half or so before the turkey is done. If you use the cornbread stuffing, everything is safe to eat before it's even in the oven, so that's not an issue.
Make sure all the pin feathers are cleaned from the turkey, rinse it off and be sure the insides are clean of excess whatever it is in there. If you have to start the turkey very early in the morning, this step can be done the night before.
When it's time, put the turkey into the pan and cover it loosely. Turn the oven on to around 325 degrees and put the turkey in it. Close the door; go back to bed or open gifts or whatever.
Don't open the oven until about halfway through the estimated roasting time. Check it by piercing the inside of the thigh, where the meat is the most dense. Don't pierce it anywhere else or it will lose its natural juices and the meat will be dry. If you think you absolutely have to, you can baste it at this point, but as long as you're cooking it at a low temperature, basting is not necessary.
If the turkey seems closer to done than you had planned, turn the oven down to 300 degrees. If it's getting done but not browning, take the cover off.
Check again at about the three quarters mark of the estimated time and adjust the temperature and cover as needed.
That's all there is to it.