Published November 1, 2002.
If you have but one oven and a long guest list for Thanksgiving, only a gargantuan turkey will do. Here's what we learned about successfully roasting "the big one."
Working with a 20-plus pound bird has its drawbacks. How were we going to find a container large enough for brining, a technique that our test kitchen finds essential to great turkey? We were also concerned about turning the bird in the oven, another important step to turkey perfection. This pumped-up Tom was going to be hot, heavy, and dangerous to move halfway through roasting.
We wanted the Norman Rockwell picture of perfection: a crisp, mahogany skin wrapped around tender, moist meat. And it had to be easy to prepare in a real home kitchen.
Choose a Butterball or kosher turkey. Both have been, in essence, brined--the Butterball injected with a saltwater solution and the kosher bird packed in salt during koshering. Roast the bird at 425 degrees for 1 hour, then lower the heat to 325 degrees, turn the turkey and continue to cook about 2 hours longer. The turkey is better if turned halfway through cooking, but those not up to the task can skip this step. Don't buy store bought gravy; follow our tried-and-true recipe for giblet pan gravy, which can be made while the turkey cooks.list of recipes