Every oven is different and things can get really scary when roasting a turkey. If the turkey doesn’t have the little pop up gage in the breast there is always the question of it being done or not. The best way to take a lot of the mystery out of cooking the big bird is to use a probe thermometer. You stick the probe end of the thermometer wire into the thickest part of the thigh and the other end of the wire into an instant read thermometer. If you don’t have a probe that came with your oven then this instant read probe thermometer is absolutely the best way to go. It’s worth the investment. You can get one of these wonderful gadgets at any kitchen store.
1 Cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 23-25 Pound Fresh Turkey, Brined, Rinsed Well and Patted Dry
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
6 Large Carrots Coarsely Cut into Pieces
2 Large Spanish Onions Coarsely Cut into Pieces
6 Celery Stalks Coarsely Cut into Pieces
Reserved Turkey Neck
8 Cups Homemade Turkey Stock, Rich Chicken Stock or Canned Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
Coarse Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350º with the rack in the lowest part of the oven.
Place cut up carrots, onions and celery into a large roasting pan. (Laying flat on the bottom of the pan will act as a roasting rack. The veggies cooked with the turkey in this way will give your gravy more flavor.) Place the turkey, breast side up, in the pan on top of the veggies. Fold the wing tips under. Season the turkey body cavity and the neck cavity with salt and pepper. Loosely stuff the turkey body cavity and the neck cavity with the Cornbread stuffing. (Put left over stuffing into a buttered heat proof dish and bake at 350 degrees F 40-50 minutes. Serve as a side dish besides the stuffing in the bird.) Tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Fold the neck cavity skin under and secure with a skewer or long pick. Rub the turkey all over with the melted butter and pour some of the butter over the veggies. Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper.
Place the turkey in the preheated oven and roast for 5 to 6 hours. Baste the turkey occasionally (about every 45 minutes). Do this quickly; keeping in mind that each time you open the oven door you loose about 25 to 40 degrees of heat and it takes time to recover the heat. The turkey is done when an instant read thermometer reads 175°F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest part of the thigh.
Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a large platter. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour before serving. Remember the turkey will continue to cook when covered with the foil.
Place the roasting pan over two burners. Over medium high heat bring the juices, fat and veggies to a boil. Sprinkle the veggies with 1 cup all-purpose flour. Stir this all together, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously.
Meanwhile heat the turkey stock. Slowly add the hot stock to the pan stirring continuously. Let this cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain the gravy into a large sauce pan and slowly bring back to a simmer. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste.
Gravy Hints and Tips: You can make the Turkey Stock by boiling together 10 cups water, two cut up carrots, a cut up onion and several cut up stalks of celery, the turkey neck, a bay leaf, ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and fresh parsley. Lower heat to simmer and cook for two hours covered.
If the gravy is too thin for your liking, blend cornstarch and water together to a smooth thin paste and stir into boiling gravy a little at a time until the desired thickness is reached. If the gravy is too thick for your liking, add hot stock until the desired thickness is reached.
A Word About Brining
To achieve a most, delicious, well cooked turkey I strongly recommend you brine the bird. I usually buy a brining kit at the market specifically for turkey. Follow the brining instructions and you will be delighted with the results. All you need is plenty of room in the frig.