The Main Event: Turkeys Two Ways.
There's more than one way to cook a Turkey for Thanksgiving. If it's your first time, we'd suggest roasting it. If you want to spice things up, maybe try making a "Spatchcock Turkey" this year.
How To Guide: Roasting a Turkey
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. Remove one rack and place the remaining rack near the bottom. The turkey should be about centered in the oven to get even air flow.
3. If brining (and you really should be!): At least an hour before roasting, remove your turkey from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. If you have extra time, let it stay refrigerated (uncovered) overnight to help the skin dry out and you'll get an even crispier skin.
4. Add your aromatics (onions, carrots, celery, thyme, etc.) to the cavity.
5. Get out a large roasting pan. Your pasture raised turkey will be quite juicy so be sure to use a roasting pan with plenty of room for the drippings (not just a baking sheet.)
6. Toss 3 to 4 quartered onions, shallots, carrots, roasting potatoes, and other root vegetables you have in oil and season with salt, then add to the bottom of the roasting pan. These veggies may be eaten later, but more importantly, they will help flavor the pan drippings which can be used to make tasty gravy. For really large birds, you may want to add the potatoes and carrots half way through roasting to keep them from drying out.
7. Place the bird on a rack in the roasting pan, breast side up.
8. (Optional) Slice the skin along the breast bone and pour melted butter under the skin and over the skin. Pin the skin back together. Another technique I have seen is to cover the bird with a butter soaked cheesecloth.
9. Place your chilled but not completely refrigerated turkey into the hot oven (450 degrees). Roast, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the skin doesn't burn. You are trying to crisp the skin and lock in the moisture.
10. Once the skin has browned moderately, reduce the oven heat to 325 or 350 (lower temperature for larger birds). If the skin continues to cook too much, apply a layer of aluminum foil over the bird.
11. Roast your turkey for approximately 12 minutes per lb (total time, including the original 30 minutes.) So a 20 lb turkey should take between 3.5-4 hours. A 15 lb turkey only needs 2.5-3 hours.
12. After an hour, check to see if the turkey has left some pan drippings. With a baster, suck up the juices and squirt over the turkey. Continue roasting, checking about every half hour through the window on the oven. You're looking at the skin- if it starts to get too brown or even burnt looking, protect the wing tips and the drums with some foil.
13. After 2 to 2.5 hours, start watching the temperature (this depends on size of the turkey). People say that our turkeys cook on the faster end, so start checking early. A great tool is a digital thermometer with an oven-safe probe that you can keep inserted in the turkey while it roasts-- this way, you're sure not to overcook.
The remote probe thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. The breasts do cook faster than the legs, so your might want to tent them once the leg starts reading 145.
14. You will want to remove the turkey from the oven when the internal temperature of the breast and thickest part of the thigh reaches about 157 - 160 degrees.
15. Let the bird rest (covered with foil) for 30 minutes before carving as it will continue to cook and pull back in the moisture.
Adam Lambert's Spatchcock Turkey
1. The benefit of cooking a turkey Spatchcock (removing the backbone) is that all of you meat become roughly one thickness, and can cook more evenly. It also is great preparation if you're planning on smoking or grilling your turkey.
2. First, remove turkey from brine and using paper towel pat the turkey dry. Place on a sheet tray with a resting rack unwrapped overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and place on a clean cutting board.
3. Place turkey breast-side down, with the legs towards you. Using your kitchen shears, cut up along each side of the backbone to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Open the turkey out and turn over.
4. Flatten the breastbone with the heel of your hand so that the meat is all one thickness. Bend the tips of the turkey wings back underneath the drums to help stabilize the bird.
5. Get your smoker fired up. Place in your spatchcocked turkey into the smoker. Cold smoke (under 100 F) the turkey for about 2-3 hours.
6. Pre-heat your clean and seasoned grill on medium-heat. On both sides, season your turkey with salt and pepper and place breast-side down onto the grill. Grill covered for approximately 20-30 minutes (checking and watching for flare-ups and hot spots: all grills cook differently and unevenly) or until the turkey starts to brown and then carefully flip over and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes. At this point you can either turn the heat down to low and finish cooking the bird, flipping as needed until an internal temp of 157-160 (temperature will carry up to 165 during the resting stage) is recorded on the thickest part of the back leg (thigh).
7. If you do not want to finish on the grill you can place the turkey breast side up in a 350 oven and cook until recommended internal temperature is achieved. Let the bird rest for at least 25 minutes before carving.