Thursday, December 07, 2006

Roast Stuffed Crisped-Skin Turkey (Thanksgiving 2006)

From Cook's Illustrated November/December 2000

Jim prefers that I use a Kosher bird, so I don't brine it. I air-dried it for an hour with a house-hold fan in the bathroom before I stuffed it. I used a 13 1/2 pound (a frozen Empire Kosher turkey, but someone recently told me that Trader Joe's has these fresh at Thanksgiving time). --Pamela

We prefer to roast small turkeys, no more than 14 pounds gross weight, because they cook more evenly than large birds. If you prefer, halve the amount of salt in the brine and brine 12 hours or overnight. When you remove the turkey from the oven to rotate it, be sure to close the oven door to prevent heat loss. Preheating in a microwave gives the stuffing a head start on cooking so that the turkey does not overcook as it waits for the stuffing to reach the proper internal temperature. A cheesecloth stuffing bag makes easy work of removing the stuffing when it’s time to carve the bird.

Serves 10 to 12
4 cups kosher salt or 2 cups table salt
1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly, giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved for gravy
2 medium onions , chopped coarse
1 medium carrot , chopped coarse
1 rib celery , chopped coarse
4 sprigs fresh thyme
12 cups prepared stuffing
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus extra to grease baking dish

1. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons cold water in large stockpot or clean bucket. Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (about 40 degrees) for 4 to 6 hours.

2. Remove turkey from salt water and rinse well under cool running water. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast-side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Scatter vegetables and thyme in shallow roasting pan; pour 1 cup water over vegetables. Prepare V-rack according to illustration 4 below.

4. Place about 6 cups stuffing in medium microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap; microwave stuffing on high until stuffing registers 120 to 130 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. Spoon hot stuffing into cavity of turkey; secure opening with turkey lacers or with skewers and kitchen twine. Tuck wings behind back; following illustrations 1 to 3 below, truss turkey. Brush breast with butter, then set turkey breast-side down on foil-lined V-rack; brush back with butter. Roast 1 hour, then reduce temperature to 250 degrees and roast 2 hours longer, adding more water to roasting pan if necessary. Meanwhile, place remaining stuffing in buttered 11- by 7-inch or 9-inch-square baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Remove roasting pan with turkey from oven; using thick wads of paper towels or potholders, rotate turkey breast-side up and brush with remaining butter. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees; continue roasting until thickest part of breast registers about 165 degrees, thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees, and stuffing registers 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove turkey from oven and let rest until ready to carve.

6. While turkey is resting, unwrap baking dish with stuffing and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

7. Carve turkey; serve with stuffing and gravy, if desired.

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