Roast a Turkey? Umm, Yeah. Sure, I Can Do That.
Time to take a deep breath and confess: I have never used a roasting pan. Never cooked a turkey. Never roasted a chicken, a ham, a beef roast.
You see, for family dinners, there are 2-3 great chefs ahead of me (at least). If fixing Thanksgiving Dinner were a Denver Broncos football game, I’d be Zac Dysert with my wife as Brock Osweiler and my sister, a personal chef, as Peyton Manning. That’s our depth chart. (And when you add in my Mom, I’m probably Tim Tebow.)
I’m a good cook, don’t get me wrong, but unless my sister gets a neck injury and my wife twists her ankle, there’s not a chance I’m going to get to “start.” And I’m okay with that. It’s a lot of pressure to coordinate those holiday meals and try to get everything to the table on time. There’s at least a 50 percent chance I’d fumble—or worse, get sacked. (I think I could do it, though. I think I could.)
Anyway, with the talent pool we have in the family, I usually get assigned the green bean casserole or a dessert. I’ve moved up from bringing the rolls, though.
Call in the reserves!
When I saw on our blog schedule that I had to write the post about roasting a turkey, I panicked. But then I put on my “pads” (an apron) and my “helmet” (a toque) and did what any of you would do in the same situation: I Googled it.
How do you roast a turkey with a roasting pan? (What did we do before the Internet?)
Believe it or not, there’s a plethora of great information on how to use a roasting pan to roast a turkey—and none of the authors got all Chef Ramsay (Coach Bill Belichick?) on me and made me feel inferior for even asking. Shoot, even my sister, “Peyton,” would have made fun of me.
There may not be a chance for me to make the starting lineup, but when it’s your turn, at least you’ll be ready.
All kinds of roasting pans
Here’s a piece of advice I would never have thought of: If you don’t have a roasting pan, before you purchase one, measure the size of your oven. Be sure the pan can fit (include the handles and the lid) before you buy. Also, allow for 2 inches of air space around the meat you’re roasting. There are many different roasting pans:
- CHEFS Stainless Steel Roasting Set: Our 4-piece stainless-steel roasting pan set features an extra deep pan well to collect juices and easily cook vegetables with your meat. The stainless-steel is polished to a mirror finish and comes with a matching stainless-steel rack and two turkey lifters—which look like big forks. Holds a turkey, ham, rib roast up to 24 pounds.
- CHEFS Holiday Roasting and Serving Set: This roasting pan set includes pan, rack, turkey lifters, and a conveniently separated serving dish to easily set apart dark and white meats.
- Granite Ware Covered Roaster: This roaster doesn’t come with lifters or a rack, but it does have a matching lid. Made of dark porcelain-enameled steel construction, the domed lid allows air and moisture to circulate, basting foods in their own juices.
- Le Creuset Tri-Ply Stainless-Steel Roasting Pan with Rack: This set from Le Creuset includes a rack and roasts turkeys, whole chickens, and more making them deliciously moist and evenly browned. Large, easy-grip handles ensure safe, simple lifting and transferring.
- CHEFS Hard Anodized Roasting Set: If you prefer hard anodized aluminum, consider this CHEFS roaster which comes with a rack, turkey lifters, and an injector/baster, and a nonstick interior.
So, what do I do now?
After you’ve chosen your pan, it’s time to train for the big day and learn how to actually roast a turkey. Place your turkey (or other meat) in the roasting rack, centering the rack in the pan. Preheat your oven to the appropriate temperature (follow your recipe’s instructions for temperature and time) and place the roaster on the center rack of your preheated oven. Always check your meat’s internal temperature with a internal instant-read meat thermometer.
Cover the meat with the roaster’s lid (or a tented sheet of aluminum foil). After roasting, allow the meat to rest in the pan for five to 10 minutes after it’s removed from the oven. Transfer the meat to a platter and rest another five minutes. The resting, I’m told, helps distribute the natural juices throughout the meat. Who knew?
- A covered roasting pan will cook foods faster than an uncovered roaster. A covered roaster creates a mini-oven inside your regular oven.
- Dark-colored roasters will cook faster than unfinished metals, such as stainless steel, because they absorb and transfer heat faster.
- Deeper pans can slow down the cooking time as it is harder for the heat to circulate in a deep pan. Use a deep roasting pan for meats you wish to slow cook.
So, like many other mysteries of life, it seems using a roasting pan is not all that difficult. I think I’m ready. I just need my shot. Put me in coach!
Here are some recipes, including a turkey, of course, if you want to try some roasting this year.
- 1 turkey about 15 pounds, cleaned with giblets and neck removed
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 bunch celery, rough chopped
- 2 large carrots, rough chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, rough chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a roasting rack into a large, heavy roasting pan big enough to hold the turkey.
Stuff the cavity of the turkey with onion, celery, carrots, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Using butchers twine, truss the turkey (see video) to hold the legs together and close to the body. Stuff the neck area with any remaining vegetables and herbs, and fold the neck skin under the bird.
Rub olive oil over the entire surface of the stuffed bird. Generously season the turkey with salt and cracked black pepper. Place the bird, breast side down into the roasting rack.
Place turkey into preheated oven, and roast at 400 F for 30 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350 F, and continue to roast for 2 hours. Decrease temperature to 225 F, and cook until turkey breast reads 165 F on an instant read probe thermometer, and the thigh reads 175 F.
To brown the skin of the turkey: If browning the turkey further, remove the turkey when the thermometer reads 160 F in the dark meat and 170 in the thigh to help prevent over-cooking. Using turkey lifters, flip the turkey over. Increase the oven to 500 F, and let brown for 10 to 15 minutes to desired color and the turkey breast reads 165 F on an instant read probe thermometer, and the thigh reads 175 F.
Remove from oven and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving and serving. Serves 10 to 12 people.
The sauce is a variation on the classic French beurre blanc. It’s a bit thinner and lighter, too.
- 1 cup garlic brine blend for poultry
- One 4 to 5 pound chicken, rinsed inside and out with cold water
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup full-bodied wine such as Viognier or Chardonnay
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, just cold, cut into 16 pieces
Don’t let the notion of a butter sauce scare you away. A spoonful is enough to enrich the chicken, and it’s worth it.
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 5 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the brine blend and boil 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill thoroughly, about 1 hour.
In a 2-gallon container, combine chilled brine with 8 cups of water. Add chicken, cover the container with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 475 F. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the thyme sprigs, rosemary sprigs, and half lemon inside the cavity. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast, basting occasionally if you like, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170 F (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the juices cool, too.
To make the sauce, strain the cooking juices into a measuring cup or bowl. Place the roasting pan with the juices in it over high heat and pour in the wine. Cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, 3 minutes. (This is called deglazing.) Add the stock and continue to cook, 3 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter, whisking until the mixture looks creamy.
Return the pan to low heat and quickly whisk in the butter one piece at a time, whisking each one in completely before adding the next. Do not let the mixture boil. If it begins to boil around the edges of the pan, remove it from the heat. When all the butter has been added, remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve: Cut the chicken into 4 or 8 pieces and arrange them on a platter or on individual plates. Spoon some of the sauce over each piece. Pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serves 4.
Rib-eye roast seared to perfection enhanced with simple seasonings of salt and pepper.
- One 5 pound beef rib-eye roast (boneless preferred), trimmed, at room temperature
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Laurent Tourondel serves seared rib-eye roast (also known as côte du boeuf) with a trio of dipping sauces at his popular BLT Steak restaurant in New York City. This adaptation of his recipe relies on a high-quality cut of beef. When you use the best quality beef, salt and pepper are the only seasonings you need.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In an enameled cast-iron roasting dish over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the meat to the pan and sear (brown) on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Transfer beef to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 130 F for rare, about 1 hour, 10 minutes, or 140 F for medium, about 1 hour 25 minutes.
Transfer meat to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut meat into 1/2-inchthick slices. Serves 8.
Cornbread crusted pork loin roast with all the moist, tender benefits of brining.
- 1/2 cup brining blend
- 2 cups ice-cold water
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- One 4 pound boneless pork lion, cut into a butterfly pinwheel
- 2 cups cornbread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a medium saucepan, combine the brine mix and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the ice water and lemon juice. Allow to cool completely.
Place the pork in a chicken brining bag or a nonreactive bowl. Pour the brining liquid over the pork. Seal the brining bag or cover the bowl securely and refrigerate overnight.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the crumbs, onion, sage, thyme, pepper, and salt. Pour the broth and butter over the mixture and stir well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Remove the roast from the brining mixture and rinse. Unroll the roast flat on a cutting board and spread it evenly with the cornbread mixture. Roll the roast up lengthwise, jellyroll fashion. Tie it at intervals with kitchen twine. Place the roast in a shallow roasting pan, seam-side down.
Combine the vinegar and oil. Baste the roast with the mixture. Roast for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 155 F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Cut into 1/2-inch slices to serve. Serves 8.