Unstuffed Oven Roasted Turkey
- 1 fresh or frozen (thawed) turkey
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 small celery stalk with tender leaves attached, cut into 1–inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 8 sprigs fresh (optional)
- 4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and position the oven rack to the lowest level.
- Remove the giblet package and neck from inside the bird. Set these aside for giblet gravy. Check both the neck cavity and body cavity for giblets; often these are stored in both places.
- Pat the turkey dry both inside and out with paper towels. If desired, the turkey may be rinsed inside and out with cold running water and patted dry.
- Rub the inside cavity generously with salt.
- Place the onion, celery and thyme inside the body cavity. These add wonderful flavor, both to the meat and to the drippings, which you’ll use later for giblet gravy. Discard the onion and celery, once the turkey is roasted.
- With the turkey breast–side–up, bring the loose skin at the neck opening to the back of the turkey. Hold the skin in place by folding the wing tips under the back. Tuck the legs under the band of skin near the tail, or tie together with heavy string.
- Place the prepared turkey, breast–side–up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, and generously brush the skin with melted butter or vegetable oil.
- If an oven–safe meat thermometer is used, insert it in the center of the inside thigh muscle, making sure the bulb does not touch bone.
- Roast uncovered according to the roasting chart for your size turkey, or until the temperature as measured in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175 to 180 degrees.
- When the bird is two–thirds done, cut the band of skin or string between the legs so thighs will cook evenly.
- Remove turkey from the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 20 minutes before carving.
- If using a turkey labeled "pre-basted," self-basting," or "kosher," the additional salt called for in Step 4 is not necessary. Basting is also not necessary, but can be done, if desired.
- Try to match the size of the pan to the size of your turkey. If the pan is too deep it will shield the thickest part of the turkey thighs from the heat causing them to cook unevenly.
- The turkey breast can be tented with aluminum foil (shiny side out) to prevent it from browning too fast or overcooking. Remove the foil during the last 45 minutes of roasting. The back part of the oven is usually the hottest, so placing the turkey with the legs toward the back and breast toward the oven front may also be helpful.
- Best results will be obtained if heat is able to circulate completely around the turkey, so be careful not to overcrowd the oven with other dishes baking at the same time.
- A turkey can be roasted at a higher oven temperature (see High-Heat Roasted Turkey) but, for safety sake, do not use a temperature lower than 325 degrees.