Updated Tuesday, October 26th, 2004
Chef Sam Hayward strongly recommends brining turkey because no other method does such a good job of creating moist and flavorful meat. If you haven’t brined before, make this the one new thing you try this year. Instructions can be found at the recipe for Sam Hayward’s Brined Turkey.
Preheat oven to 400°. Tie the ends of the turkey’s leg bones together with soft twine. Massage the skin well with plenty of olive oil (thanks to the brining, you don’t need to sprinkle it with salt and pepper).
Place the turkey breast side down in a large roasting pan. Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 325º. Roast the bird this way for about 10 minutes per pound, basting occasionally. Remove turkey from the oven, turn it over onto its back, return to oven, and continue roasting for an additional 5 or 6 minutes per pound, basting occasionally.
The bird is fully cooked when an instant-read thermometer registers 150º when inserted into the crease between the thigh and the lower breast, the legs move easily in their hip sockets, and juices run clear when the inner thigh meat is pierced with a meat fork. (A note from Sam: “The government suggests much higher cooking temperatures, as high as 165º, to kill food-borne disease organisms, usually resulting in a cooked texture somewhere between beef jerky and compressed sawdust. A conscientious local poultry farmer, careful handling procedures, a clean kitchen, and brining all help to reduce the risk of food-borne disease in poultry, rendering such appalling overcooking unnecessary.”)