Servings: Serves at least 10
  • 1 8- to 12-pound turkey
  • 10 or more cloves garlic lightly crushed
  • Several sprigs fresh tarragon or thyme (or several pinches dried)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (melted butter may be substituted)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450°. Put turkey on a stable cutting board, breast side down, and cut out the backbone. Turn bird over and press on it to flatten. Put it breast side up in a roasting pan that will accommodate it (a slightly snug fit is okay). The wings should partially cover the breasts, and the legs should protrude.

Tuck garlic and herbs under bird and in nooks of wings and legs. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 minutes, undisturbed. By then, the bird should be browning; remove from oven, baste with pan juices, and return to oven. Reduce heat to 400° (or 350° if it seems to be browning very quickly).

Begin to check the bird's temperature about 15 minutes later (10 minutes if the bird is on the small side). It is done when the thigh meat measures 155° to 165° on an instant-read meat thermometer; check it in a couple of places. Expect a 12-pound bird to cook longer, around a half hour.

Let the bird rest for a few minutes before carving, then serve with pan juices and garlic cloves. (Or make turkey gravy.)