Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman


It’s the annual nationwide freak-out. That damned turkey! So many questions, so much uncertainty!

I hope this goes a little ways toward easing your mind if you are among the turkey afflicted. Of course, a detailed recipe and process shots are in my latest book, Ruhlman’s How to Roast.

For the last couple of years I’ve recommended a roast-braise hybrid.

This year a straightforward roast, from the book. Publishers Weekly published a full-on version (see below). Here I just want to go through the basics. You must have good turkey stock on hand, which is easy to do, but you can also buy low-sodium organic broth as well.

Stuff the cavity full of onions and lemon and carrots and celery to keep hot air from circulating in the bird’s cavity and overcooking the breast. Truss the bird, or at least tie the drumsticks together. Salt it very generously all over. Put it in a 425˚F oven for 20 minutes or so, then lower the temperature to 375˚F (but the truth is, temperature isn’t all that critical; it should be a hot oven is all, but because the bird is so big not as hot as for roasting a chicken). A 12-pound bird will take about one and a half to two hours.

How do you tell when it’s done? It doesn’t matter. Your goal is to slightly undercook the breast. Because the fact is, the legs and thighs need a lot longer than the breasts. Remove them from the bird and return them to the oven for another hour or so. (They can stay in a 200˚F oven for a couple of hours if you prefer.)

Here’s the key part: When the gravy has been thickened and all the sides are finishing up, remove the legs from the oven. Pour an inch or two of turkey stock into the pan you roasted it in, and bring this to a simmer. Take each breast half off and slice it thinly crosswise. Cut the meat from the legs as you wish. Put all the turkey back into the simmering stock to reheat the breast (or to fully cook it if it’s still partly raw).

Serve hot, with hot gravy on top!

Still too vague? Publisher’s Weekly has posted the entire version from How to Roast.

And please: Relax! Enjoy your family and friends on this most special American holiday.

If you liked this post on roasted turkey, check out these other links:

© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.