Adapted primarily from The Joy of Cooking’s sixties revision, we call our family’s method for roasting Joy’s Turkey
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Just before stuffing, after removing neck and giblet package from inside birds cavity, be sure to rinse turkey inside and out very thoroughly. Allow to air dry briefly. Then just prior to cooking, stuff loosely, about ¾ full.
This method is adapted from the sixties revision of the Joy of Cooking and is our preferred method of roasting a stuffed turkey. Bear in mind roasting a turkey is like offering to bring your favorite potato salad to a picnic, everyone has a preferred method and some may try to bolster a claim to having the best approach with some sort of scientific-sounding jabber. So, as with other traditional fare, there are quite a few different methods for roasting a stuffed turkey, and it is a matter of taste how you proceed. One day after Thanksgiving, while “catching up” on catalogs prior to my scenic trip to the town dump (there were six from Williams Sonoma) a method for cooking roast, stuffed turkey, which looks suspiciously like a marriage of (1) the covered-roaster described but not recommended by the Joy since W-S recommends a constant temp of 325° F. and (2) the Joy’s approach since W-S suggests an open pan with cheesecloth over the bird.
TO COVER OR NOT TO COVER: One recommended method, very different from The Joy’s is to bake a stuffed bird at a constant, slightly lowered temperature, e.g. 325° F. rather than 350° F., in a covered pan without frequent basting. Those who favor this method claim it reduces shrinkage. While I have never understood why shrinkage should be a concern, since most folks cannot figure out what to do with the leftovers once Thanksgiving is over, and there seems to be no proof of this shrinkage theory, if you are without cheesecloth or some other light cloth to use for the Joy’s cooking method described below but you do have a covered pan or a pan you can turn into a reasonable facsimile by building a well-sealed tent with aluminum foil, do try this covered-roaster method. About one-half hour before you plan to remove the bird from the oven, remove cover and baste the bird two or three times.
TO STUFF OR NOT TO STUFF: The late, great James Beard popularized roasting turkey unstuffed, cooking the stuffing on the side. I do not believe this was for reasons of health cause he cooked his stuffing laden with much melted butter alongside. Just another preference. If you prefer to do that, reduce cooking time slightly, perhaps by half an hour, and put an onion, an apple and some celery inside the bird’s cavity for added flavor. You can still use the cheesecloth method described below whatever you decide about the stuffing.
So, THE METHOD à la Joy
Preheat oven to 450° F. After stuffing the bird, place it breast side up on a lightly greased rack, uncovered, in a roasting pan — your oven’s broiler pan should be fine. Reduce the oven temperature immediately to 350° F. Cook for one-half hour before covering with the cloth as described below.
Have a wooden spoon, metal tongs and some oven mitts handy.
If your turkey is 13 to 14 or more pounds, melt one stick of butter (¼ pound) in the pan in which you will make your gravy. For a smaller bird, reduce the amount of butter to half a stick. Cut a large piece of cheesecloth, several thicknesses, which are big enough to cover most of the bird, and soak that in the melted butter. Very carefully cause this is hot, melted butter even though its on the saturated cloth take that butter-soaked cloth, open the oven, pull the oven rack and roasting pan just far enough forward so you can reach around the bird with hitting your hands on hot parts of the oven’s interior, then carefully place the cloth over the bird. Be sure no cloth edges are hanging over the edge of the pan or your oven will be smoking in a short time. The miracle of this method (no science) is that this cloth-covering the breast helps correct the usual imbalance of the white meats being overdone cause you awaited the legs reaching a degree of acceptable doneness.
If you are cooking a large bird, 14 pounds or over, allow about 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey. Allow about 20 minutes to the pound if you have a very small, ten or eleven pound turkey. E.g. our turkey today weighs in at 17 pounds and we plan a four-hour cooking time, at which point we will check it with our handy dandy digital thermometer. Cook to an internal temperature of 160° F.* remove from oven and drape loosely with a kitchen towel remember the bird will continue cooking outside the oven as you spend a half hour or so scraping the pan drippings, making pan gravy, setting your table, finding your guests, etc.
Happy Thanksgiving from Joy and the rest of us here at The Recipe Reader. — be sure to chill the champagne!
*Poppy says he would cook a large 17 pound bird to an internal temperature of 155° F. By the time the gravy is made and we are sitting down,, the bird has continued to cook enough to meet the most stringent guidelines for doneness. Bear in mind, it is quite a long time between removing the bird, covering it with a cloth or aluminum foil, and getting the rest of the household act together.
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