I’ve done it both ways. Sort of depends on the oven and how it performs. One thing I will say is you get to know your oven doing a turkey.
alex mades some really good points: air dry the turkey in advance, get it out of a deep roaster and cook it on the lowest rack possible (heat rises).
I leave mine out of the fridge for at least 6 hours before roasting, which helps the heat penetrate. I also leave the stuffing out as well (no egg sourdough with mushrooms, onions and sage) so it’s not ice cold.
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I stuff and truss it then rub it lightly with vegetable oil. I also kick-start it at 425 for 15-20 minutes then I turn the heat down to 325 for the duration. That starts the browning earlier but also helps insure it will be cooked through – so it needs to be near the bottom of the oven and it might need a sheet of foil loosely over the top at some point.
Whether I’m using convection or not, I cook it at the same temperature – convection cooks more quickly in some ovens but that mainly affects how long it cooks.
My oven has a drip pan that slips underneath whole the rack. The one issue with using the rack method is that there are no veggies in the roasting pan and no cooked-on bits that give the gravy so much flavor. So it depends on the end result: gravy or no gravy.
More often, I put the turkey in a shallow but sturdy roaster (never a deep one) and let it rest on a bed of finely minced onions, celery and carrots with thyme leaves and a bay leaf or two. Those cook down and, as the juices start to caramelize, the veggies help form the base of the gravy. Meanwhile, I take chicken stock and enrich it with all the turkey trimming, neck, gizzard and heart.
Turkey is relatively lean, which is why it’s always important to keep the breast moist. When I was editing a food magazine years ago, we did a side-by-side test of basting and no basting. Basted turkey was more moist (it also gives a base for the gravy – guess by now it’s clear I love me my gravy). So I baste as quickly as possible (opening the oven door lets out 1/3 of the heat) so the first baste is when the oven is turned down from 425 to 325 – it helps reduce the heat. Then about 1x per hour during the cooking. I’ve seen turkeys take forever to cook because someone was pokey about the basting and 325 isn’t a very hot oven.
I’ve found that the breast meat can be kept super moist by putting some stuffing under the skin all over the breast and then shaping it smooth. Great results and terrific, crisp skin that’s sort of like crackling with benefits.
There is clean up in the oven after roasting a turkey though not always as much as with a chicken.
A probe is great as long as it’s in the thickest part of the thigh or breast but not touching the bone. Then there’s the old skewer test for doneness – stick it in down to the bone in the breast and in the second joint – if juices are pink it needs more time – they run clear when it’s done.
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