Step-by-step photos for
The Best Roast Turkey
Step 1. ASSEMBLE THE GEAR
Everything will go more smoothly if you take inventory of what you need to have on hand before you begin preparing the turkey. Here are my tried-and-true recommendations.
A roasting pan and rack. I like a sturdy stainless steel roasting pan. However, some people prefer to use disposable aluminum roasting pans (widely available in grocery stores in November) so they don’t have to deal with clean up after the big meal. Many roasting pans come with racks. If you need to buy one, I highly recommend my pull-apart rack. It eliminates the awkwardness of lifting a heavy turkey off of the rack and onto a platter or cutting board. It has a rod that runs through the middle holding two sections together while the turkey cooks. After transferring the turkey to a platter, remove the rod, and the two sides pull apart and away leaving the turkey on the platter right where you want it.
High heat, water-proof gloves. I originally bought these awesome gloves for use when I grill, but I find myself frequently reaching for them in place of my old cloth oven mitts. They make it so easy to handle the turkey. You’ll see below that I flip my turkey over during the roasting process. I used to do that using folded paper towels, but I had to work quickly before the grease and heat soaked through and burned my hands. These gloves make it so easy. The gloves are washable in sudsy water or in the dishwasher.
Kitchen twine. To tie the turkey legs together.
Silicone pastry brush. For coating the turkey with olive oil (or melted butter) before it goes into the oven. I prefer this to a natural bristle brush and it’s dishwasher safe for easy clean up.
A good thermometer is a must. It’s virtually impossible to know when your turkey is perfectly cooked without taking its internal temperature. I have two thermometers that I use when I roast a turkey.
A remote probe thermometer. It inserts into the turkey while it cooks. The monitor attaches by a long oven-proof cord and sits on the counter outside the oven. (There are also pricier wireless probe thermometers, but I haven’t tried them.) An alarm goes off when the turkey reaches the right temperature, so there’s no taking it in and out of the oven to test for doneness. I also like that I can watch the temperature rise and make it easier to time when to cook the other dishes that will accompany the meal. I use a probe thermometer when I cook meat in the oven or grill, too. Awesome gadget.
An instant-read thermometer. I use this virtually every time I cook meat–oven, stove-top, or grill. For turkey, I use it after the remote thermometer alarm rings to check in several places on the thigh and breast to be sure that the turkey has reached the right temperature throughout. If you don’t have a remote thermometer, you can get by using one of these to check the turkey’s temp periodically as it cooks. I have a Thermapen that is the cream of the crop when it comes to thermometers. It’s pricey, though. However, you can get a more affordable instant read thermometer that works well with similar features. But, seriously, if you don’t have an instant read thermometer, get one!