Traditional turkey recipes are simple and basic and rely on capturing the full flavor of the turkey through basting and a rich gravy. If using a frozen turkey, start thawing it in a pan in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days before roasting, depending on its size. If turkey overlaps pan rim, tuck a strip of heavy-duty foil along pan sides during roasting to keep fat from dripping over.
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1. Remove and discard leg truss from turkey. Pull off and discard any lumps of fat. Remove giblets and neck (they're often packed in neck or body cavity) and save for classic gravy. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry. Rub turkey all over with butter.
2. Place turkey, breast up, on a V-shaped rack in a 12- by 17-inch roasting pan (or one that is at least 2 in. longer and wider than the bird). Insert a meat thermometer straight down through thickest part of breast to the bone. (If using an instant-read thermometer, insert when checking temperature.)
3. Roast in a regular or convection oven until thermometer registers 160°. (See below for times and temperatures.)
4. If turkey is unstuffed, tip slightly to drain juices from body cavity into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter. Let stand in a warm place, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, then carve. If thigh joints are still pink (common in an oven-roasted bird), cut drumsticks from thighs, place thighs in a baking pan, and bake in a 450° oven until no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes, or put on a microwave-safe plate and cook in a microwave oven at full power (100%) for 1 to 3 minutes. Serve with Classic Gravy.
Nutritional analysis per 1/4 pound boned cooked turkey with skin, based on percentages of white and dark meat in an average bird, and without gravy
Oven-roasted turkey: temperatures and times:
For a 10-13 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 350° oven for 1 1/2-2 1/4 hr.
For a 14-23 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 2-3 hr.
For a 24-27 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3-3 3/4 hr.
For a 28-30 lb turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hr.
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