I have become so accustomed to, and spoiled by, this method of cooking turkey that I just don’t see myself roasting the bird any other way again. Turkey cooks more quickly in the bag which frees up oven space, letting me pop in the side dishes. No basting is needed, so if I want, I can put the bird in the oven before church on Christmas Eve and it is ready when ’we get home. Plus, the turkey turns out brown and gorgeous and all those drippings are caught in the bag, making clean-up a breeze. And it jump-starts a turkey hash or soup for the next day.
Yield: Serves 18 to 20
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 turkey (20 pounds: see Note)
1 medium-size onion, cut in half
1 lemon, cut in half
1 bunch fresh thyme or parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
2 teaspoons seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
Fresh herbs, for garnish
Purple grapes, for garnish
you'll also need:
1 turkey-size oven-cooking bag (14 by 20 inches)
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the flour in the oven-cooking bag and shake it. Place the oven bag in a large roasting pan that is at least 2 inches deep.
2. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and set them aside for another use or discard them. Rinse the turkey under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the onion, lemon, thyme or parsley, salt, and pepper in the cavity of the turkey. Brush the outside of the turkey with the melted butter and sprinkle the seasoned salt all over it. Place the turkey in the oven bag, and gather the bag loosely around the turkey, allowing room for heat circulation. Secure the bag with its nylon tie. Cut four or five 1-inch slits in the top of the bag so that steam can escape. Tuck the ends of the bag in the roasting pan.
3. Roast the turkey until an instant-read meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the inner thigh registers 180°F, 2½ to 3 hours. (If you stuff the turkey, you will need to add another 30 minutes cooking time.)
4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place it on the stovetop. Let the turkey rest in the bag for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the turkey from the bag and transfer it to a platter to rest for about 30 minutes before carving. Gently tent the turkey with aluminum foil to keep it warm while it rests. Garnish the turkey with herbs and grapes before serving.
My family adores leftover turkey for sandwiches, so we like to roast a big one. The general rule is a pound of turkey for every person, and this should give you leftovers. I have learned to buy a slightly larger bird so that there are even more leftovers, plus I like to send sliced turkey home with folks as well.