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I’m sharing this recipe for those of you who are looking for a great easy way to roast your turkey this year.

Our family has used this one for decades and we always get rave reviews about how moist and tender it is.  Never dry! Make note that the turkey needs to be started in the oven the night before you plan to eat it.

And if it’s not quite thawed the day before, you can quick thaw it by following these instructions from Butterball.

Turkey in the Oven

It’s great because you can put your turkey in the night before. YES, the NIGHT BEFORE you want to eat it and you wake up in the morning with the delicious aromas filling the house. Another awesome thing about this recipe is that even if you cook a large turkey, it comes out moist and tender.

I first found the recipe in a book by Emilie Barnes called “The Complete Holiday Organizer”. I was going to add a link to buy the book, but it appears to be out of print. Sorry. For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she was a homemaking guru before anyone ever heard of The Martha. I’m going to include the text from the book to give you some background. I hope you try it and enjoy it. It’s SO easy!

“Perfect Turkey Every Time”

” Trust me on this one. The white meat melts in your mouth. This is a SLOW roasting method, but once in the oven, you can forget it until it comes out.

Choose desired size turkey, wash it well, and remove the neck and giblets from inside the cavity. Dry turkey with paper towels. Rub the outside well with pure olive oil.  If you want to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, stuff with dressing of your choice.  This is optional.  It can be cooked with or without stuffing/dressing.  (Sometimes if I’m not stuffing the turkey, I’ll add a few whole pieces of celery, carrots and onion to add a bit more flavor to the bird.)

Set the turkey BREAST side down  on a rack in a roasting pan (this bastes itself, making the white meat very moist).

VERY IMPORTANT: Place into a 325 degree F [preheated] oven for one hour to destroy bacteria on the surface. Then adjust the heat to 180-185 degrees for any size turkey. (note: I’ve updated the temp for the first hour of cooking to 325 merely as a precaution since many recipes now call for roasting temps to be at that level.)

This is important. The turkey can go in the oven the night before eating it!

Turkey Slow Roast Chart

Turkey Slow Roast Chart

Example: I have a 22 pound turkey. At 5:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve I put the turkey in the oven prepared at 325 degrees for one hour. I turn the temperature down to 185 degrees and leave the turkey uncovered until it’s done the NEXT day about 10 or 11 a.m.

Although the cooking times seem startling at first , the meat is amazingly delicious, juicy and tender. It slices beautifully and shrinks so little that a turkey cooked at regular temperatures no longer tastes good. It cannot burn so it needs no watching. It literally cooks itself. ” I do feel the need to baste every once in a while, but that’s probably more habit than anything, besides I like to open the oven and smell the turkey.

A good rule for timing is about 3 times longer than a standard recipe. For example: a 20 pound turkey that normally takes 15 minutes per pound to cook would take 5 hours. This slow cook method would be 3 times 5, so it equals 15 HOURS to cook the slow way. A smaller turkey cooks 20 minutes per pound, so an 11 pound turkey takes 3 hours, 40 mins standard, times 3 which equals 11 hours for the slow roast way.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE:  Many newer ovens are set to automatically turn off after 12 hours (I guess it’s assuming that you forgot to turn it off.) You don’t want your turkey sitting in an oven for hours without any heat.  It will be uncooked and dangerous to eat, plus you’ll have lots of unhappy and hungry guests come dinner time.  If your turkey will be reaching the 12 hour mark while you’re sleeping, just before you go to bed, be sure to turn off the oven temperature for a few seconds, then turn it back on to 185 degrees.  This will reset the oven’s internal timer so as not to automatically turn off. Be sure to make note of any time that 12 hour window ends, so you can be sure to “reset” the oven before that.

Now here’s the cool part. Once it’s done, it will NOT overcook or dry out. You can leave it in the oven an additional 3 – 6 hours and it will still be perfect! Thus your roasting can be adjusted totally to your convenience. So allow yourself plenty of time. It’s better to put it in a little early than too late though, since you want to be sure that it’s done. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. Can it be more simple?

Many standard recipes call for allowing the turkey to “rest” outside the oven for about 30 minutes before cutting. This can be done with the slow roast method as well.  Besides allowing the juices to settle in the turkey, it also allows you to have your oven free to cook or warm other items for the meal just before serving.

I’ve been using this recipe for probably 25 years and have never been disappointed when I followed the directions.

One item I need to point out. If your family actually puts the whole turkey on the table as a nice presentation, then you need to know that cooking it breast side down will not be quite as pretty as what you’re accustomed to.  There will still be some crispy skin on the top side, but the breast will not be crisp since it was on the bottom of the pan. If you’re like our family and you just take it out of the oven and slice it up on platters, no one will even know that you cooked it upside-down, except that it will taste AMAZING!

Have fun and let me know how your dinner turns out.

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