This classic roast turkey recipe is the foundation of a solid Thanksgiving menu...and the bird comes out moist and luscious after just about two and a half hours.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything, Tenth Anniversary Edition by Mark Bittman. Copyright © 2008 by Double B Publishing, Inc. With permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

This recipe is from O's Thanksgiving menu.
Servings: Serves at least 15, plus leftovers
  • 1 12-pound turkey
  • Bacon-nut stuffing, may be cooked separately
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter at room temperature (extra-virgin olive oil may be substituted)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • Stems from 1 bunch parsley tied together (optional)
  • Turkey gravy
  • Sliced figs for garnish (optional)
  • Mostarda di frutta (mustard-oil preserved fruits, available at, for garnish (optional)
  • Directions
    Preheat oven to 500°. Remove giblets from turkey and set aside. If cooking stuffing inside turkey, loosely pack the turkey cavity with stuffing, then tie legs together to enclose the vent. Coat bird all over with butter (or brush it with oil), then sprinkle well with salt and pepper.

    Put turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Add 1/2 cup water to bottom of pan along with turkey neck, gizzard, any other giblets, onion, carrot, celery, and parsley. Put in oven, legs first if possible.

    Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown, then turn heat down to 350°. Continue to roast, checking and basting with pan juices every 30 minutes or so; if the top threatens to brown too much, lay a piece of aluminum foil directly onto it. (If the bottom dries out, add water, about 1/2 cup at a time; keep at least a little liquid at the bottom of the pan at all times.) Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh measures 155° to 165°. If, when the turkey is nearly done, the top is not browned enough, turn heat back up to 425° for the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking.

    Remove turkey from oven. Take bird off rack and make gravy while bird rests; let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving. Serve on a platter garnished with sliced figs and mostarda di frutta and with gravy on the side.


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