Remember how your mother used to get up at 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving so she could put the turkey in the oven to roast for ten hours? Then she had to baste it all day to keep it from drying out, which, of course, it did anyway? Forget it. A 12- to 15-pound turkey cooks in 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and you let it rest for at least 20 minutes before you carve it. Everyone will say, “This is the best turkey I ever ate.” I use an organic turkey whenever I can.
1 fresh turkey (12-15 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity loosely with the Herb & Apple Stuffing (recipe follows). Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
Roast the turkey for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.
Slice the turkey and serve with the stuffing.
Herb & Apple Stuffing
For one large turkey
16 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes (2 baguettes)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 large onions)
2 cups medium-diced celery (3 large stalks)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, and large-diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the bread cubes on a half sheet tray and bake them in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until toasted.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the butter, and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
In a large bowl, combine the toasted bread cubes and cooked vegetables and add the chicken stock and almonds, if desired. Taste for seasoning. Place the stuffing loosely in the cavity of the turkey. Any extra stuffing, place in a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or along with the turkey for the last half hour of roasting.
Be sure not to stuff the turkey in advance—stuff it and place it in the oven soon afterwards.