From preparing the bird to serving slices of it doused in gravy, here are 12 steps to the perfect turkey.
Serves 12 to 14
1 20- to 21-pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted, plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 bottle dry white wine
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry red or white wine for gravy (optional)
Tools and Materials
Instant-red meat thermometer
Place rack on lowest level in oven and heat to 425 degrees.
Tuck the wing tips under the body of the bird, and place turkey breast-side-up in a roasting pan. Season inside of bird with salt and pepper. If your turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness.
Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in the butter and wine. It should cover the breast and part of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven and roast 30 minutes, then brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with butter mixture and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
After another half hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone; when the temperature reaches 165 degrees, the bird is ready. This will take 1 to 2 hours more (start taking temperature after 2 1/2 hours total cooking time).