How to Roast the Perfect Turkey With ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ Co-Host Julia Davison

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Julia Davison, co-host of "America's Test Kitchen," calls Thanksgiving the Super Bowl of food, and Jessica agrees.

Turkey, the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast, is often intimidating for a number of reasons: it's big, it can be expensive, and it can be the recipient of judgement from guests if it's not cooked just right.

Also, it's not easy to cook a juicy turkey in a short amount of time.

Julia's "easier roast turkey" recipe offers just that. You'll get a few "wows" at the table with the picture-perfect final product, Jessica said.

This segment aired on California Cooking With Jessica Holmes Episode 47.

Julia Davison's Easier Roast Turkey
Serves 10 to 12

Note that this recipe requires refrigerating the seasoned bird for 24 to 48 hours. This recipe was developed and tested using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you have Morton Kosher Salt, which is denser than Diamond Crystal, reduce the salt in step 1 to 3 tablespoons and rub 1 tablespoon of the salt mixture into each breast, 1 1/2 teaspoons into each leg, and the remainder into the cavity. If using a self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball) or a kosher turkey, do not apply the salt-mixture to the bird. The success of this recipe is dependent on saturating the baking stone and roasting pan with heat.

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey
  • 2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

  1. Combine 4 tablespoons salt and sugar in bowl. Place turkey, breast side up, on counter.
  2. Using your fingers, carefully loosen skin covering breast and legs.
  3. Rub 4 teaspoons salt-sugar mixture under the skin of each breast, 2 teaspoons under skin of each leg, and remaining salt-sugar mixture inside the cavity.
  4. Tuck the wings behind back and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  5. Place the turkey on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
  6. At least 30 minutes before roasting the turkey, adjust the oven rack to its lowest position, set baking stone on the rack, set the roasting pan on the baking stone and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  7. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and baking powder in small bowl. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and rub oil mixture evenly over turkey.
  8. Cover the turkey breast with a double layer of aluminum foil.
  9. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the roasting pan.
  10. Place turkey, breast side up, in a pan and return the pan to the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and roast for 45 minutes.
  11. Remove foil, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to roast until the breast registers at 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register at 175 degrees, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer.
  12. Using a spatula, loosen the turkey from the roasting pan and transfer it to a carving board. Let the bird rest, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
  13. While it rests, using wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from bottom of roasting pan.
  14. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Transfer drippings to fat separator and let rest for 10 minutes.
  15. Add drippings to make-ahead gravy, or use it to make last-minute gravy).
  16. Carve the turkey and arrange it on serving platter.
  17. Serve with gravy and enjoy!
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