There are a few secrets to a perfectly roasted turkey. The most important part is that it’s roasted evenly so that the whole bird is juicy and properly cooked. Trussing helps you achieve that. The other thing that trussing does is give you a really pretty bird! So if it is your tradition to show off your gorgeous roasted bird before carving it, then get out your twine and let’s get trussing!
There’s no need to be intimidated. It’s really not difficult to truss, and it only takes a minute or two and some kitchen twine, which you can pick up at your grocery store (ask the butcher!).
First things first: you need to make sure that your turkey is thawed. This is best done in the refrigerator over a day or two. Now, make sure that you have emptied your completely thawed turkey of the neck and the innards. Personally, I like to keep the neck for gravy and dispose of the organs, but what you do with those little guys is totally up to you!
I like to rinse and pat dry my turkey and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. For the trussing, you need a nice long length of cotton butchers twine (several feet long). Take your bird and lay it on a cutting board facing away from you, drumsticks pointed towards you!
Fold the twine in half and make a loop at the center point. Tuck that over the top of the neck “stump” (sorry). Pull the twine downward and then wrap tightly around either side, underneath the breasts, bringing the twine back towards you.
Then tie the twine in a tight double knot just under the tip of the breasts.
Next, take each length of twine and put one side under the drumstick and loop it over. Put the other side over the drumstick and loop it under.
Now pull those ends tight (which will pull the drumsticks tightly together!) and then wrap the twine back around, underneath the breasts (you will be doubling back).
Instead of going all the way back to the neck, you will stop and hook each piece of twine through the little weird small nub that sticks out of the wing.
That little nub is what will hold the string to the wings and anchor them to the side of the bird …
… as you now turn the bird over. Take those twine pieces and cross them in the back.
Then bring the twine back to the front of the bird where you tied the knots earlier at the tip of the breasts. Tie a tight double knot and cut off the extra twine.
Congratulations! You just trussed a turkey!
Now let’s roast this bird. Preheat your oven to 400 ºF after removing the extra racks. You want your rack low in the oven so the turkey has plenty of room. (This temperature may seem a bit high to you, but I’ll explain more later.)
First of all, I like to use a roasting rack with my roasting pan so that the bottom of the bird doesn’t braise in its own juice. I like crispy skin all over. In the bottom of the roasting pan, I put the turkey neck. I cut a large yellow onion into thick rings and stick that in there, too. I also add 4 cups of chicken or turkey broth and about a cup or two of white wine because we like quite a lot of gravy in my family.
Now I prepare the turkey seasoning. In this case, I made a compound “butter” out of coconut oil (and yes, it was insanely delicious!) but you could easily use butter instead of coconut oil.
In a medium bowl, I mashed together garlic, lemon zest, parsley, sage, thyme, and coconut oil.
Then I coated my turkey in a thick layer of the coconut oil mixture. Next, I generously seasoned the turkey with kosher salt and pepper and shoved the lemon halves from the zested lemons into the cavity of the bird. (Please note that these cooking directions are for an UNSTUFFED turkey!)
I transferred the whole thing to the roasting rack set in the roasting pan that has the turkey neck, onions, wine and broth in the bottom.
The rule of thumb is that you roast turkey for 12–13 minutes per pound. I like to start roasting it at a higher temperature for the first 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to finish roasting. This gives the turkey that gorgeous golden brown color.
Place the turkey on the lowest rack in the oven so it has plenty of room and cook the turkey for 30 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350ºF and continue roasting for the remaining time. (Since my turkey was 13 pounds and needed to roast for 2 hours and 45 minutes, the initial 30-minute roast was at 400ºF, followed by 2 hours and 15 minutes at 350ºF.) If you are less concerned about the dark color of the skin and just want it to be easy, then roast the turkey at 350ºF the entire time, 12–13 minutes per pound.
I like to baste the turkey about every 45 minutes with the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan.
When the turkey is done, the skin should be golden brown, the juices should run clear, and a thermometer inserted deep into the thigh should read 160ºF. Remember that as the turkey rests, it will continue to cook.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Display the whole roasted turkey for the buffet if you wish, or go straight to the carving. (We’ll talk all about that in the next post!)
If you are interested in the presentation I created for the roasted turkey, here is what I did: I made a bed of Tuscan kale leaves (this took about 1 1/2 bunches). Around the edges, I added rose hips from my garden, satsumas with the leaves on, and sprinkled a few fresh cranberries around. I also tucked fresh sage from the garden and a few marigold buds which are still in bloom. All of this takes about 5 minutes and really enhances the presentation. After you carve the turkey, you just tuck it right back onto this platter.
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