Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Roast Turkey the Lazy Way

When I was a kid I remember my mother reorganizing the refrigerator every year a couple of days before Thanksgiving to make enough room for the huge honking turkey that had to thaw out before it could be cooked. Heck, I've gone to great lengths myself to thaw out a turkey...even setting it in a cooler full of warm water (which is now discouraged due to the increased intelligence of bacteria these days). Oh yeah, I've done the whole Silver Palate turkey roasting routine. Been there, done that.

Well, these days my time is much more precious than it used to be. I don't have time to oversee the days-long thawing process. Who needs it? Not me, since I learned that it's possible to roast a turkey from stone cold frozen.

How? Easy! All you have to do is unwrap the frozen bird and plop it breast side up into a roasting pan with a cover (or a shallow roasting pan covered with aluminum foil). You cook the turkey at a lower temperature (325°) and 1.5 times longer than you normally would. At about the second hour, the bird heats up enough for you to remove the goody bag, which is usually stuffed where the neck once was.

About an hour before it's done, take the pan out of the oven and remove most of the juice (there will be a lot!) with a turkey baster. There's your gravy base. Then coat the bird with a light misting of cooking spray, hit it with a little salt and pepper, and put it back in the over uncovered so that the skin gets nice and brown.

Sure, you can't cook the turkey with the stuffing inside using this method, but who cares? Just do a stovetop or oven-baked stuffing in a casserole and you're good to go.

So here are the approximate cooking times for frozen turkeys. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°, taken with a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh. Set the oven to 325°.

Cooking Frozen Turkeys
8 to 12 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 4½ to 5½ hours
14 to 18 pounds 5½ to 6¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 6¼ to 6¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 6¾ to 7½ hours

PS This works great for frozen chicken, too!

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