The ritual of cooking turkey used to be a painful and an elaborate process, taking long hours of watching the clock and basting the bird, hoping that with luck, the dinner will not turn out tough and dry.
There is, however, another way to roasting that can give you perfect results in the form of a juicy and tender turkey, taking much less time to cook than our grandmothers took. The same technique can also be applied to roasting chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, or any kind of poultry.
This method is also used in fine restaurants and hotel kitchens where they cannot afford to take as much time as our ancestors did in roasting turkey. They blanch the turkey before roasting, and then roast it at a very high temperature.
Here are the steps:
First, make sure that your turkey is completely thawed, if you are starting with a frozen one.
Second, boil water in a large pot. Place the turkey in the kitchen sink, and pour the boiling water all over it to scald it thoroughly both inside the cavity and all over the skin. You will notice the skin beginning to shrink.
Next, run cool down the turkey by running cold tap water all over it, both inside and outside. Cooling it down makes it easier for you to handle it.
Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, both inside and out.
Now, you may put in the stuffing. I recommend using a cheesecloth bag. Whether or not you stuff the turkey, it isn’t necessary to sew the cavity together. Just truss the legs together. If you still have stuffing leftover, stuff it into the neck cavity, and secure it with a skewer.
Now, put the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Make sure the bird is elevated so the hot air can circulate under and around it. The best kind of wire rack is the V-shaped rack specifically designed for roasting turkey. It enables you to lift the bird from the pan easily when roasting is done.
Make sure turkey wings and thighs are not touching the roasting pan. If they are, slip pieces of aluminum foil, oiled with cooking oil, between the turkey skin and the pan.
Next, oil the entire top surface of the bird. Corn or safflower oil has less saturated fat than peanut oil or butter. Pour several tablespoonfuls into the palm of your hand, and rub it all over the turkey.
Using a large sheet aluminum foil, make a tent that will completely seal the turkey within the roasting pan. Crimp the foil edges to the outside edges of the roasting pan, all around the entire perimeter.
Roast at 450˚ Fahrenheit. This very hot temperature enables you to cut your roasting time virtually in half: instead of 0 minutes per pound, it will be 15 to 18 minutes per pound.
Half an hour before your roasting time is done, you need to baste your turkey for the first time. To do this, remove the aluminum foil (be careful of the hot steam inside). Reduce oven temperature to 325˚, and baste with a bulb baster, brush or spoon. Baste twice more during the final half-hour.
The end result of this turkey will be juicy, tender, and perfect enough to make any professional chef proud. The same method works just as well for chicken and any other bird, as long as you first seal the skin with boiling water, oil the skin, place it on a rack in a roasting pan, cover with foil, and roast at 450˚. Chickens and smaller birds may need less than half and hour of uncovered browning time, 15 to 18 minutes per pound hold true no matter what size your bird is.
You will literally save hours of time, and your family and guests will rave about how tasty, tender, and juicy your perfectly roasted poultry turns out, each and every time.