This Thanksgiving there is one recipe in your trusty recipe file that you won't want to just follow blindly.
Unless you've updated your file marked "Thanksgiving Turkey" recently, take it out and destroy it. Like all things in life, turkeys have changed.
For the most part, they have more white meat, less dark meat and a lot less fat under the skin -- meaning this year's turkey is going to cook faster and be in greater danger of drying out than ever.
Instead of roasting the bird 20 minutes per pound, figure 15 minutes per pound. That will be a good starting point for you to then begin to monitor the temperature of the bird. Remove the turkey from the oven when the breast meat registers 170 degrees or the thigh meat registers 180 degrees.
To compensate for the leaner bird, create your own moisture- and flavor-enhancing mix of butter, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture under and over the skin of the bird and it will essentially become self-basting.
If your crowd's adventuresome, add garlic, grated ginger, lemon, chopped fresh herbs or dried spices to the butter mixture. Not only will you be spicing up the turkey, the drippings will be flavored as well.
One last thing: The number one sin at Thanksgiving is overcooking the bird. So be sure to use a thermometer to keep track of the turkey's progress.
Basic Roast Turkey
Servings: 12 to 14 servings
12- to 14-pound turkey
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the giblets and neck from the body and neck cavities of the turkey. Rinse the turkey in cold water, drain it and pat it dry with paper towels. Loosen the skin over the breast by running your hands just under the skin. Reaching with your fingers, try to loosen the skin covering the legs. Transfer the turkey to a roasting pan.
Season the butter with salt and pepper. Using clean, dry hands, rub 6 tablespoons of the butter mixture under the skin, pushing it with your fingers over the breast and legs.
Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture over the outside of the turkey skin, spreading it evenly so the turkey will brown evenly. Season the turkey with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until it has turned a golden brown. Then cover the turkey with tented aluminum foil to keep the skin from getting too brown. Continue roasting.
About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, remove the foil and baste with the pan juices. After 10 minutes, baste again. Start checking for doneness after 2 3/4 hours; the total cooking time should be about 3 1/2 hours for a 14-pound turkey.
The turkey is done when the thermometer registers 180 degrees in the thigh or 170 degrees in the breast meat.
Per serving: 459 calories, 57 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrates, 24 gm fat, 171 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 185 mg sodium, 0 gm dietary fiber.
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