Cook's Country (October/November 2015)
A two-hour turkey.
A two-hour turkey.
A two-hour turkey.
What is this, magic? Could it possibly be true?
We had to find out.
Our first thought when we saw this recipe was that it must just be for a boneless turkey breast, or some other smaller configuration. Nope: This is a recipe for a full 12- to 14-pound bird.
We trust the team at Cook's and America's Test Kitchen implicitly, but we were still dubious.
There are three secrets to cooking this bird in under 120 minutes. First, the recipe specifies a "prebrined" turkey. But that's no big deal: It just means a turkey that's been shot through with a saltwater solution. Most any turkey you get at the grocery store will qualify. (Heritage breeds, or turkeys you get from a farmers market, likely won't be prebrined.)
Secret No. 2 involves two small slits that you cut between the turkey breasts and the legs. That helps ensure more even cooking.
Finally, you need the right mix of high and low heat, because you want tender, juicy meat inside with a nice brown finish on the outside. In this case, that means 60 minutes at 450 degrees, then about 40 minutes at 250.
Did it work? Was our turkey up to temp?
Yes, with one caveat: We were cooking other things in our oven as well, and we also made the mistake of opening and closing our oven door too many times. As a result, our actual oven temperature was about 50 degrees below what the oven display was set at. (Our little $7 oven thermometer has been a lifesaver on more than once occasion. If you don't have one, pick one up.)
Because of our too-cool oven, this turkey ended up more like a two-and-a-half-hour-turkey-going-on-a-three-hour-turkey. But that's our fault.
So how did it taste?
Would you believe, amazing? It was perfect! The meat was juicy and delicious and the skin was crackly and crisp.
For all of us who have brined turkeys overnight, or set extra-early alarms in order to get up and start cooking the T-Day bird, this recipe is a godsend.
Honestly, you won't know what to do with all the extra time you'll have on Thanksgiving day. But we have one idea.
2 onions, quartered through root end
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 (12- to 14-pound) prebrined turkey, neck reserved, giblets discarded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
3 cups water, plus extra as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Scatter onions, carrots, celery, and turkey neck in bottom of large roasting pan. Set V-rack over vegetables in roasting pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and tuck wingtips behind back. Transfer turkey, breast side up, to V-rack.
Using sharp knife, slice through skin between breast and leg on each side of turkey to expose entire underside of thigh without cutting into meat. Combine oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in small bowl. Brush turkey all over with oil mixture.
Roast turkey until thickest part of breast registers 120 degrees and thickest part of thighs registers at least 135 degrees, 60 to 70 minutes. 4. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees and continue to roast turkey until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest for 45 minutes.
While turkey rests, transfer vegetables and turkey neck from roasting pan to bowl, leaving turkey juices behind. Add water to roasting pan with turkey juices and scrape up any browned bits from pan bottom. Transfer deglazed juices to 4-cup liquid measuring cup; add extra water, if needed, to equal 4 cups.
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and turkey neck and cook until any liquid has evaporated and browned bits begin to form on bottom of pot, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits.
Sprinkle flour over top and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add thyme sprigs, sage sprig, deglazed pan juices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened to gravy consistency, 12 to 15 minutes.
Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer set over medium saucepan; discard solids. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.