The Perfect Turkey Recipe


16-18-pound fresh or frozen whole turkey, thawed
12 cups favorite stuffing
4 to 8 tablespoons ( 1/2 to 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 to 5 cups turkey broth or stock, divided, as needed

Place the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the turkey neck and giblet packets to use in gravy or stock. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towel. If desired, loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the neck skin to the back. Fold the wing tips behind the back or tie to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover and refrigerate to bake as a side dish. Secure the drumsticks in the metal clip or tie them together with kitchen string. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub all over with the softened butter. Season with salt and pepper. Place an oven-safe meat thermometer into the meaty thigh area, just above the bone, but not touching the bone. Tightly cover the breast with foil. Pour 2 cups of the turkey stock into the bottom of the pan. Roast the turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with the pan juices. Lift up the foil to reach the breast. If pan juices evaporate, add more turkey stock, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups at a time. Remove the foil during the last hour of roasting to allow the breast to brown. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast and the stuffing has reached 165 degrees. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let stand, covered loosely with foil, for at least 20 minutes before carving.

To cook extra stuffing: Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the turkey stock over the stuffing in the casserole, cover and bake until heated through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Carve the turkey and serve with stuffing alongside. Makes about 16 servings.

Adapted from "Thanksgiving 101" by Rick Rodgers (Broadway, $15) Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen

600 calories (49% from fat), 33 grams fat (13 grams sat. fat), 21 grams carbohydrate, 53 grams protein, 647 mg. sodium, 216 mg. cholesterol, 87 mg. calcium, 1 gram fiber.

Printed by permission from the Detroit Free Press. 1999.

Please visit our free recipes pages 1, 2 & 3 for additional recipes to use for your holiday meal.

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