Roast Turkey

Originally published on December 19, 2011

This is the way I’ve seen my mom make turkey ever since I was little; and you can put all the glazes and exotic spices that you want on a turkey and I’ll think it’s delicious (because I really love turkey a lot!) But it still won’t be as good as just slathering some butter and salt on it and letting that natural roast flavour come through! Roast turkey is a super easy meal to make; it’s usually the sides that are so intimidating. But, keeping a few things in mind definitely makes it that much easier, and tastier!

  • You have to brine! No one wants to eat dry turkey, and everyone dreads it. Turkeys are simply so big now, and are raised to their absolute fullest that there’s no longer any way that you can completely cook it without drying it out if you don’t brine it. Michael Simon, one of my favourite new chefs but still one of my faves overall, is dead-set against brining because he thinks it changes the texture. But he does still cover the turkey in salt overnight, to keep it moist and add some flavour.
  • Make sure your oven will fit the turkey before you buy it. Trust me, I almost made this mistake last Thanksgiving when I bought a massive turkey and nearly had to squish it in. Ditto for your brining pot. I’m sure people are still cursing me over the dry turkey I served last year because I hadn’t heard of the cooler tip yet, and I didn’t have a pot big enough for my massive bird.
  • Let the turkey rest – for a long time – after you pull it out of the oven. Those juices all need to go back to where they’re supposed to be and besides, you need your oven free to put the dressing in and cook all the other sides.
  • Don’t ever put stuffing inside your bird. By the time the stuffing is cooked through, you’ve overcooked and dried out the breast – even if you’ve brined it beforehand!


1 10 – 20 pound turkey (you’ll need about 1/2 pound to 1 pound per person)
1 cup butter
1 cup coarse salt, plus 1/4 cup 
3 heaping tablespoons black pepper
1/2 cup sugar 
1 head garlic, divided, cloves peeled and kept whole
4 bay leaves, divided


1.) If you’re turkey is frozen, make sure it’s completely defrosted in the fridge before you start preparing it. The night before you’re going to serve your turkey, completely rinse it and pat it dry. Fill a very large pot (large enough to fit the turkey) with cold water. Pour in 1 cup of coarse salt and the 1/2 cup of sugar. Add half of the garlic cloves, two of the bay leaves and stir. Completely submerge the turkey in the water, making sure that it stays below the surface of the water. Cover with a lid or Saran wrap and place in fridge overnight to brine. (If your turkey is very large, a cooler filled with ice packs and water also works well.)

2.) Determine how much time you need to cook your turkey; it will take about 20 – 30 minutes per pound. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and move rack to lowest position in your oven.

3.) When you’re ready to start cooking your turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it thoroughly (you want no salt or other spices  on it.) Then pat dry thoroughly. When dry, rub the cup of butter entirely over the turkey, using only as much as you need, but more if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place 2 bay leaves and remaining garlic cloves into the cavity of the turkey.

4.) Place turkey in a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. Leave uncovered and place in oven. Roast for required time, depending on the size of your turkey, checking it periodically to baste with pan juices and to turn turkey around in the oven to ensure even cooking. If at any time you check on your turkey and it is getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil.

5.) Remove turkey from oven when a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, both at the thickest part of the breast, as well as in the innermost portion of the thigh and leg. Place on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

6.) Carve the turkey by first removing the legs, separating legs from thighs, and carving into slices. Then, letting your carving knife guide you along the breastbone, completely remove one half of the breast meat. Lay flat on a cutting board, carve into slices, and then repeat with remaining half of breast meat. Arrange all pieces on a serving platter.

7.) Serve and enjoy!