If you're intimidated by the idea of preparing a turkey, you're not alone. Having a large bird as the centerpiece of a meal can seem overwhelming at first, but the good news is it doesn't have to be when you have a simple, easy-to-follow recipe. Whether you're an experienced chef who's totally comfortable in the kitchen or a newbie, it's a myth that preparing a perfectly seasoned, juicy turkey is super challenging.
Before you get started, consider the size of the turkey you will need. A good rule of thumb is one pound of turkey per person. If you have big eaters or you want to have plenty of turkey leftovers, aim for one and a half or two pounds of turkey per person. Once you have the turkey, make sure you leave enough time for it to thaw to avoid having to cook a frozen turkey. A quick way to thaw the turkey is to put it in a bath of warm water, changing the water every half hour and allowing 30 minutes of thawing time for each pound of turkey. Be sure to also remove the giblets from the turkey. Once your turkey is thawed and ready, follow these simple steps:
- Preheat the oven. Set your oven to 325°F and let it warm while you prepare the bird and accompanying vegetables. We highly recommend having a meat thermometer as well to be able to check the bird as it cooks.
- Put vegetables in the bottom of the pan. Coarsely chop up one onion, one bunch of celery, and one or two large carrots. Arrange them in the bottom of your pan.
- Place the turkey breast-side up on top of the vegetables. Once the turkey is arranged on the vegetables, pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Be sure to dry both the outside and the inside of the turkey.
- Make a seasoning mix, and season the bird. Combine three tablespoons salt, one tablespoon black pepper, and two teaspoons garlic powder in a separate bowl. Use one-third of the seasoning mix inside of the bird, gently rubbing it. Then, tuck the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with twine.
- Melt five tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Let the butter melt until it's slightly brown. For additional flavor, add some rosemary and sage to the butter mixture and let the butter absorb the flavor for a minute.
- Brush the turkey with the butter mixture. Completely cover the bird in the melted butter, then add the remaining salt mixture, spreading it evenly over the bird.
- Bake the turkey. Put the turkey in the oven, uncovered. Let it cook until it's no longer pink near the bone and juices run clear. To ensure the bird is fully cooked, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure the temperature has hit 180 degrees.
- Let it rest. Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it.
- Enjoy! Enjoy the delicious turkey and the satisfaction of mastering a holiday classic.