There's no doubt that cooking a Holiday Turkey can be a challenge, and I have definitely made several turkeys that were worthy of the trash! To cook a great turkey, there are many obstacles to overcome: the white meat needs to be cooked to 160° F, the dark meat needs to be cooked to 175° F, and all the while, you want to get the skin crisp without turning the breast meat to chalk.
I have read a lot about roasting turkey and through trial-and-error, I've come up with a method that works for me, every time.
First, a few rules.
- Don't Stuff the bird. No doubt stuffing is awesome, but if you think about it, the thing that makes stuffing awesome is the bird's juices infusing it. However, those juices need to be cooked to 165° F and you can't achieve that without drying out the breast meat. Removing the stuffing to finish on the stove top isn't a good option, because when you remove it you will inevitably cross contaminate the meat. Also, stuffing isn't Paleo, and we're Paleo.
- Don't baste the bird. Basting the bird does nothing to moisten the meat and keeps the skin from crisping. Not to mention every time you open the oven to baste, you add to the overall cook time. Salt or brine instead.
- Don't rely on the pop-up timer — it will likely fail you. However, don't remove it — juices will flow from the gapping hole it leaves behind.
- Rest the turkey for 30 minutes. Resting the turkey will allow the fibers to reabsorb the juices. If you don't let it rest you'll wind up with a puddle to clean up on the counter.
Home Again Creative's Gluten Free & Paleo Classic Turkey
This recipe is for a 12-14 pound turkey. If you have a bigger turkey, add additional herbs and roots accordingly. Total time for this recipe is 17-23 hours, so be sure to plan plenty of time.
Trim any excess fat from the turkey and set aside the neck, giblets, and tail piece.
Salt or brine the turkey, though I recommend brining. For instructions, see our blog post How to Salt & Brine Poultry. After brining, you will need to air dry the bird. Pat the turkey dry in the cavity and outside and place it on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Chop the thyme, onions, carrots, and celery; melt the ghee. Toss 1 tbsp of melted ghee with the herbs and vegetables, and place the mixture inside the turkey cavity, then trestle (tie the drumsticks together with string) the turkey.
Adjust the oven racks to the lowest position and preheat to 400° F.
Brush the turkey with the remaining ghee.
Place a cup of water into the roasting pan and start roasting the turkey breast side DOWN for 45 minutes.
When the 45 minutes is completed pull the turkey from the oven and flip it, using paper towels. Then return it to the oven breast side UP for about an hour, or until the breast registers 160° F and the thighs read 175°F.
Remove turkey from the oven & onto a carving board, tipping it cavity side down into your roasting pan, so any juices in the cavity run into the pan. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes, and finish the gravy.
After that, carve, serve, and enjoy!!