It took a lot of stress and hard work to come up with this hassle-free turkey. Don’t think I didn’t personally slave just because I say it’s the easiest ever. It wasn’t easy to get here. Cookbooks were scoured, recipes were sent from friends, gravies were made and thrown out, my refrigerator was packed to the brim with cooked and uncooked turkey, butchers were consulted and friends were summoned over to taste and critique. Finally, it has arrived.
Let’s start with what makes this bird so darn easy.
1. No Brining. I call for a Kosher Turkey which eliminates the need for brining. Kosher meat is salted and in general, this creates automatically juicy poultry. Buying Kosher, whether you’re Jewish or not, will save you time, stress and a mess. If a kosher turkey is not available, a brined bird will also work well.
2. No Basting. The idea of having to open the oven at regular intervals to baste completely obliterates all desires in me to make a turkey. I don’t know why. I am sure it’s not such a big deal. It’s simply a psychological hurdle I don’t want to overcome. My food is good. I own a cooking school. People pay me to learn to make my food. I have never basted EVER and I’m not starting now. I don’t even own a baster. The End.
3. Quick Cooking. We’re talking just under 2 hours for a small bird. And less than 3 for a larger one. Quicker doesn’t necessarily mean easier, I admit. If the turkey was in the oven for 5 hours and I didn’t have to touch it, I’d be equally as happy. But cooking the bird at a high temperature (450°F), as the culinary queen Ruth Reichl recommends in Gourmet, actually adds flavor by caramelizing the surface. And who’s complaining that our turkey will be done so soon?!
4. No skin lifting and fancy flavorings. It’s not needed. I’ve tried. We’re sticking to olive oil, salt and pepper. The flavors will come from our pan juices…see below.
Now here are the tricks to make our easy turkey extra yummy.
A. We’re going to start roasting the turkey breast down so all the juices run into the white meat breast. Then we turn it over to get a golden brown all over. That’s the only time you’ll have to touch the turkey as it cooks.
B. We’re going to stuff the turkey cavity with some roughly chopped and whole vegetables. This will “insulate” our turkey meat and keep it tender, but it will also contribute to a delicious flavor in the pan juices. This turkey will be served “au jus,” meaning with dollied up pan juices and no floury thickening agents which would technically make it gravy. Also we are not putting stuffing into this turkey. That would not make it The EASIEST Turkey Ever. Please see my Nobel Prize Winning Multi-Grain Stuffing Recipe. Separating the two will make your life easy.