The No-Baste, No-Bother Roasted Turkey

turkey dinner

Normally, I would consider myself the king of meat. My wife, is a fantastic cook, but if we are smoking a ham or throwing steaks on the grill, I consider that my territory.

Last year, I learned I would be responsible for preparing this year’s Thanksgiving turkey. While I generally prefer to roast my dead animals over an open flame, I wasn’t about to turn down the great honor of cooking the seasonal bird.


So…we just like stick it in right the oven, right? Similar to the big box that brownies usually come out of, right?

Needing a bit of guidance, I discovered a cookbook that may just have well been the source of many delicious meals I have enjoyed over the last few years. I would see what advice the great sage and legendary country singer Trisha Yearwood had to offer.


The Recipe


1 turkey (12 pounds, thawed, giblets removed)
½ c. salted butter (softened)
2 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 stalk celery (cut lengthwise)
1 medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
1 large carrot
2 c. boiling water
Pre-Turkey Day Check: Before you have done anything, and preferably before Thanksgiving, make sure your turkey actually fits in the desired roasting pan. I’ve run into the problem of a turkey-too-large for the pan before, and it’s not pretty.

Prepare the Bird: Most turkeys you buy aren’t quite ready for cooking. Yours will probably need to be thawed, and a bird of significant size will need to thaw in the fridge for about three days, or in cold water for 24 hours.

But that’s not all! You still have a few spare body parts to take care of. Reach inside the turkey and remove the neck. If your bird is properly thawed, it will be loose. After that, go right up main street to remove the giblets, which include the liver, heart, and gizzard. Thoroughly rinse out the main cavity with cold water.

Prepare Cooking Area: Adjust the oven racks to fit your pan and bird, and then preheat to 500 degrees. Then, get some water boiling on the stovetop.

Prepare the Bird Even More: Rub softened butter all over the turkey. Evenly sprinkle salt and pepper on the outside of the turkey. The celery, onions, and carrots will go on the inside. The turkey is going to go into the pan breast-side up. Put two cups of boiling water into the pan, cover it with the lid, and put it in the oven.

Cook the Bird: After opening your oven to put the turkey in there, it will have cooled a little bit. Monitor the temperature, and once it has returned to 500 degrees you can start your timer. Cook the turkey for 60 minutes at 500 degrees. After one hour at that temperature, go ahead and turn the oven off.

Do not open the oven door. The inside of that oven will stay hot and continue cooking that turkey for another 4-6 hours. It might smell delicious; you might be tempted to check on it. Don’t do it. After the appointed time has passed, you can pull out your turkey.

How to carve a turkey
This will probably be one of the most searched phrases on Thanksgiving day, but if you need a little help I found this great guide on the Huffington Post.

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

children pulling on turkey wishbone

That’s really all it takes to make a first-rate turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. It actually is that simple, so I might recommend keeping family out of the kitchen for a little while so they can’t see how hard you’re not working.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t break any interstate cooking laws by using a recipe from “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen” in an Idaho kitchen, but we can still keep that between us, right?


~Dr. Wagner

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