I’m always on the lookout for new Thanksgiving turkey ideas, so I was intrigued when a new friend, Char Collie, shared her tried and true method. Char is an expert on holiday traditions and frequently speaks to women’s groups about making holidays memorable. This is her favorite method for cooking turkey, so I just had to try it. It was delicious! Even better, it was easy!
Start with whatever size turkey you want. The amazing thing about this recipe is that it works easily well for a small-ish turkey and for a huge 25-pound bird. It does TAKE longer to cook the big bird, but that’s really the only difference.
Perfect Every Time Slow-Roasting a Turkey
Preheat your oven to 350°.
Unwrap the turkey and remove the neck and the giblets. (I actually stick these in a ziplock and put them into the freezer to throw into the stock pot with the carcass after the holiday dinner.) Wash the turkey off and pat it dry with paper towels. Salt the cavity. Rub a thin coat of olive oil all over the outside. You’ll also be sticking a meat thermometer into the turkey to keep track of the temperature, but you’ll need to wait to do that until it’s in the pan.
This is one thing that makes this method a little different: place the turkey breast side DOWN in a roasting pan on a rack. The rack made things easier later, but if you don’t have a wire wrack, it’s not a problem. This will still work. Putting the breast down means that it bastes itself through the entire baking process and that means lovely, moist meat. Try to get the thermometer stuck into the meaty party of one of the thighs since the turkey is breast-down.
Don’t cover the turkey (and don’t worry….it WILL stay moist).
Roast the turkey at 350° for one hour. This will destroy the bacteria on the surfaces of the turkey. After an hour, turn the oven down to 200°. You’ll roast the turkey for 15-30 hours before eating it. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 HOUR per pound of meat. Yes, that means that a 24 pound turkey needs to roast for 24 hours!
So, for example, you can put your 22 pound Thanksgiving turkey in the oven at 5 PM on Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve. It will roast slowly through the night and the next day. It’ll be luscious and ready to eat between 1 and 3 PM on Thanksgiving Day.
The handy thing about this turkey method is that you can leave the turkey in the oven for an additional 3 – 6 hours if you’re not ready to eat it when you hit that DONE point. The turkey will NOT overcook. When I cooked my turkey, there were wonderful drippings that made delicious gravy. Amazingly, NOTHING dried out.
The turkey LOOKS different at the end of the roasting process because it’s been roasting for hours and hours and hours, breast down. This doesn’t produce the classic beautiful turkey that you want to carve at the table, but that didn’t bother me at all. The meat was just incredibly delicious.
This recipe is definitely a keeper. The turkey was moist, juicy, and fabulous. We’ll be discussing other methods of cooking that Thanksgiving bird tomorrow, so be sure to check back in!
I also want to make an important safety disclaimer. The internal temperature that you’re shooting for when you’re cooking a turkey, regardless of the method of cooking, is 185°. Slow roasting overnight at temperatures lower than 200° is NOT safe. If you aren’t confident in the accuracy of your oven, make sure you test it with an oven thermometer.
And ANOTHER disclaimer: there are a lot of official looking sites out there that say that turkeys should never be roasted at temperatures lower than 325°. If you use the method in this post, I suppose there is some risk involved–nothing like sky-diving or ice-climbing, but still….some risk. Please, do this at your own risk. Ahem.