How to cook an oven roasted turkey

Written by ramona french
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How to cook an oven roasted turkey
Separate the breast from the legs and thigh, and cook them for different times. (turkey Brest meat image by Maria Brzostowska from

Roasting a turkey seems easy enough; put it in a roasting pan and cook it until it's done. And yet, when you try it, it doesn't always work out well. It's important to cook turkey to 76.7 degrees Celsius to kill all bacteria. The problem is that the white meat cooks faster than the dark meat, so by the time the dark meat's done, the breast can be overdone. An easy and good solution is to start cooking the legs and thighs before you put in the breast, so they both finish at the same time.

Things you need

  • 4.5 to 5.5 kilo / 10 to 12lb thawed turkey
  • Sharp fillet knife
  • Large and small roasting pans
  • Oil or butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups celery chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups broth in a large saucepan
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Aluminium foil

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  1. 1

    Place the thawed turkey in your clean kitchen sink. Remove the neck and bag of giblets you'll find inside the cavity and rinse them both. Put them in a pan with some broth, turn on the heat to medium high, let the mixture simmer while you finish preparing the turkey. Preheat the oven to 204 degrees Celsius.

  2. 2

    Rinse the turkey with cool water. Rinse out the abdominal cavity. Look inside and locate the area of the ribs between the legs and breast. Using your fillet knife, starting between the legs and breast, cut through the ribs all the way to the neck on both sides. You can use kitchen shears if you have them, instead of a knife. Once you've cut up to the neck on both sides, pull the breast and ribs away from the legs, cracking the remaining joints that hold the two pieces together. Cut through the remaining skin and muscle with your knife. Rinse the back and legs and pat dry with paper towels.

  3. 3

    Butter or oil the large roasting pan and make a bed of vegetables on the bottom with half the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Rub oil all over the surface of the legs and thighs. Spread the legs out and flatten the thighs, and place in the roaster on the vegetables. Pour in two cups of broth. Sprinkle the meat generously with salt and pepper. Put the roasting pan with the turkey into the oven and roast at 204 degrees for 30 minutes.

  4. 4

    Rinse the turkey breast and pat it dry with towels. Butter or oil the bottom of the small roasting pan and make a bed out of the remaining vegetables. Rub the turkey breast well with oil or butter and place it skin side up on the bed of vegetables. Pour in two cups of broth. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously over the turkey breast. Turn down the oven to 163 degrees Celsius and put the turkey breast in the oven with the legs.

  5. 5

    Lift the giblets out of the broth. Pull the meat off the neck bones and reserve for gravy. Reserve the liver, heart and gizzard to serve with the roasted turkey. Reserve the broth until it's time to make the gravy.

  6. 6

    Roast the turkey for another hour and a half. Test the temperature of the thighs and breast with an instant read thermometer. Add a little broth to each pan if needed. Continue testing the temperature every 15 minutes until each piece reaches 76.7 degrees Celsius. Take the pans out of the oven when the meat is done. You may wind up taking out one pan before the other the other.

  7. 7

    Cover the turkey with aluminium foil and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the pan juices into a measuring cup. Discard the vegetables. Remove the fat and oil from the surface of the pan juices and save it. Add enough broth to make two cups. Pour 1/4 cup of fat into a frying pan and heat to boil off all water. Add 1/4 cup of flour and stir until it's bubbling briskly. Stir in the broth and neck meat and keep stirring until the gravy thickens to your preference. Then, carve the turkey, serve with the sides you've prepared, and pour gravy over everything.

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