High-Heat ("Two-Hour") Turkey (Short Version)

This method will have you wondering why on earth you spent all day roasting a turkey!

Here's how to do it (condensed version).

If you'd like to read a more detailed version, see this file. There's a section here on how to start with a clean garbage disposal (a grandma's recipe) and how to dispose of the grease that is a by-product of turkey-roasting.


Clean oven thoroughly; use self-clean if you have it. Remove all ash. Your oven must register temperatures accurately. At the temp you will use, there's no room for error or you'll have a cinder. If you are in doubt, check your oven prior to turkey day with an oven thermometer.

Make sure you have a pan that will fit the bird. The turkey should not touch the pan, nor should any parts of the bird extend beyond the pan. Make sure the pan fits in the oven.

You'll need a roasting rack, too. The bird must not sit on the bottom of the roasting pan because it will stew. Do not rely on the "bumps" in a disposable aluminum roasting pan or wads of aluminum foil under the bird. You must have a real roasting rack.

You also need a meat thermometer: the kind you leave in during baking (not an instant-read).

Thaw bird in refrigerator, breast down. Remove 30 minutes before you're ready to roast and turn breast up.

Remove giblets and pope's nose. Set aside for making stock. Discard the large piece of fat at the vent opening. Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels. The bird must be completely dry because you're going to oil the skin. After oiling the turkey on all sides, place breast-up and prop the vent open with a metal fork (the kind you eat with, not a "carving" fork); stick in tines end first (this will be on the backbone side of the turkey) and then push in the handle end (breast side). The fork will stay in the bird during roasting. Do not tie legs together. Do not stuff. You want the heat to circulate freely.

Preheat oven to 475.

Place breast-up on the rack (oil the rack) and place inside roasting pan. Do not salt, but you may wish to pat herbs or pepper on the [oiled] skin. Insert the meat thermometer at the breast bone. Push all the way until it touches the breast bone. The thermometer should not touch the pan or the inside of the oven.

Lay a greased sheet (or Pam) of aluminum foil on top of the turkey. Do not tuck it in. Just let it lie on top.

Put turkey in oven and pour " of water or stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. The liquid should not touch the bird. Adjust the roasting rack, if necessary. Check that " of liquid remains in the bottom of the pan throughout roasting. Use this liquid for the gravy. You won't get a lot of pure "drippings" for gravy roux. A lot of this liquid is stock rather than drippings.

Do not baste. Open the oven as seldom as possible.

Make other arrangements for side dishes you normally put in the oven with the turkey. Only the turkey should be in the oven.

Roast turkey for 2 hours (16- to 18-pound bird). Remove when the thermometer reads 160. This insures that the breast meat is 170. For a larger bird, you may need some more time. Watch thermometer.

Let bird "rest" for up to 20 minutes (5-10 minutes is my preference because I like to serve my food as hot as possible). At carving, if meat at leg/thigh joint seems excessively red, return this portion to the oven while carving rest.


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marbeth@marthabeth.com