Bond's Big Bird
I'm sharing my husband, Bond's, tried and true recipe for roasting up a great big turkey using the convection feature. (I think there's something primitive in men when it comes to cooking up big pieces of meat. I mean, he's never volunteered to master the art of mashed potatoes. Never donned an apron and said, "hey, let me tackle pie crust this holiday.")
Bond's method emerged through trial and error, following recipes and tweaking a variety of methods over many Thanksgivings and in between. Bond is an engineer. He goes about things with scientific precision. This recipe works. I swear. He begins with a breast-side down turkey on a foil-lined v-rack in a roasting pan. The turkey will be flipped over (carefully and being careful to protect your hands with pot holders or kitchen towels) and roasted breast-side up.
Bond likes to start with one of those "pre-basted" turkeys since they are essentially pre-brined, and brining a very large (20-22 pound) bird is kind of a pain. The pre-basted birds are injected with a brine-like solution and you can find high-quality, fresh pre-basted turkeys or purchase a frozen pre-basted bird, which you'll need to thaw in the refrigerator for five days to a week. (Honestly, it will take that long, so plan ahead if you want to use a frozen turkey.)
Bond's recipe is straightforward and the resulting big bird is beautifully golden on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.
You'll need the following special tools:
- A large roasting pan
- A V-rack for the roasting pan (this often comes with the pan)
- Aluminum foil
- A remote thermometer (Bond's favorite) or an instant-read thermometer
What you don't need is a turkey baster, because Bond doesn't use one. He brushes the outside of the turkey with melted butter, which allows the skin to crisp up beautifully. Basting would soften the skin, which we think is not so good.
A turkey of this size feeds 18-20 guests and will provide you with enough leftovers for turkey sandwiches and a turkey casserole or two. I'll share leftover ideas next week. And, be sure to save the turkey carcass to make turkey broth which you can freeze for all sorts of soups, stews and gumbos later in the winter.
Bond's Big Bird
- 2 medium carrots, cut into large chunks
- 2 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
- 1 large onion, cut into wedges
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into wedges
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 20 to 22-pound turkey, preferably "pre-basted," defrosted if frozen
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Poultry seasoning, to taste
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup dry white wine, vermouth or chicken broth, plus more if needed
Remove all but one rack from the oven and place the remaining rack on the lowest level. Preheat oven on convection bake to 400 degrees. Set up a V-rack in a large roasting pan and cover the rack with foil (this way you won't have as many rack marks on the skin of the breast). Poke some holes in the foil. Remove bag from cavity of turkey and reserve for giblet gravy. Rinse turkey inside and out under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure skin is as dry as possible.
With breast-side up, brush turkey with half of the melted butter and then sprinkle with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Place turkey breast-side down on V-rack and brush back side with remaining butter and sprinkle with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Place half of the onion, carrots, celery, apples, lemon and bay leaves and all of the sage leaves inside the cavity of the turkey. Scatter the remaining vegetables, apples, lemon and bay leaf around in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour the wine in the pan.
Roast for 30 minutes and then rotate the pan so that the part of the turkey that was at the back of the oven is now at the front of the oven. Roast for 30 minutes more and then remove from the oven. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees (oven should remain on convection bake). Turn the turkey breast-side up, protecting your hands with pot holders or kitchen towels. Return to the oven and roast for 2 more hours, rotating the pan every 30 minutes. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of a thigh registers 170-180 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.