January 5, 2016

Perfect Roast Turkey – Slow Roasted and Oh So Tender

Slow Roast Turkey

I'm a huge fan of slow roasting and slow cooking; we eat this slow roast turkey all year round.  Here is the perfect recipe for moist, tender, unstuffed slow roast turkey; so economical for multiple meals including soups, club sandwiches, warmed up roast turkey, turkey enchiladas, and pasta dishes.   Easy and perfect every time if you follow the directions, nearly fall-off-the-bone tender.  I've included my preparation and roasting hints.  This will become a family favorite!


1 high quality turkey, 18 pounds or smaller. (I always purchase a Diestel Turkey from my local Lunardi’s Market in Walnut Creek, California.  Do not use a brined turkey, or an infused turkey brand such as Butterball.)
Fresh fruit such as apple, orange, lime, and lemon.  If using apple, using a crisp apple. I used Pink Lady apple slices with this turkey.  Granny Smith, Fugi, and Honeycrisp apple slices are also good.
Fresh vegetables:  onion and celery slices.
Fresh herbs, not dried. I used fresh oregano, sweet marjoram, rosemary, and bay leaves from my gardens with this turkey.  Don't chop the herbs, leave in pieces as shown in photo.
2 hot peppers, fresh or dried.
Butter. Use 1/2 cup for a 13-18 pound turkey, less for a smaller turkey.
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Smoked paprika

Cooking Utensils

1 turkey roasting pan with rack.  I use an All-Clad stainless steel turkey roasting pan with rack.  (This All Clad pan is great for many uses, including roasting multiple chickens and holding larger quantities of food.  Heavy duty and will last forever.)

Roasting Temp and Time: 300⁰ F for 30 minutes per pound for turkeys 13 pounds and under.  For turkeys over 13 pounds, roast for 33-34 minutes per pound.  I target getting the turkey done 45 minutes to 1 hour before we intend to eat, just in case a bit longer roasting time is needed.  The turkey should also sit for 20 minutes or more before eating (lightly covered with foil), so it has time to settle.

Directions and Hints

Remove giblets from turkey, discard all except turkey neck; place rinsed turkey neck in bottom of pan to flavor au jus.  Rinse turkey, place on rack in a heavy duty turkey roasting pan, placing the turkey on the pan's cooking rack.  Season turkey lightly with salt inside and out.   Season with black pepper and smoked paprika on outside.  (Be generous with the smoked paprika, it imparts an exceptional flavor.)

Fill cavity with herbs, fruit, and hot peppers.  (The hot peppers will add flavor but not heat, discard them after roasting).  Place additional fruit, vegetables, and herbs on top of turkey and a few pieces in bottom of pan.  Be generous with the fruit, vegetables, and herbs; they are critical for imparting delicious flavor to the turkey and au jus.  Melt butter and pour over turkey.   Add water to cover bottom of pan 1/4 inch deep.  Cover with 3 strips of aluminum foil, first placing strips on ends and lastly a middle strip on top.  Seal foil around edges of roasting pan.

Our Christmas Turkey:  14.02 pounds, ready for foil and the oven.

Bake in preheated 300⁰ oven for time as mentioned above.  No peeking and no basting (!) until 30 minutes before the final roasting time, when you should check the turkey with a meat thermometer to see if it is done.  When the breast’s internal temperature reads 165⁰, the turkey is done.  Remove from oven and allow to rest on cooling racks until ready to slice and serve.  (Keep foil on until about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.)   The turkey will be nearly fall-off-the-bone tender with a slightly browned skin. When cool, you can debone most with your hands, so tender.  The au jus in the bottom makes the perfect gravy substitute, no extra seasoning or thickening needed.  Save any leftover au jus to make homemade turkey soup.

The Slow Roasted Christmas Turkey 7 Hours Later - Perfect!

Hint:   Fruit, vegetables, and herbs can be prepared the evening ahead and kept in refrigerator, stored in covered containers or zip lock bags.  No need to keep items separate, go ahead and mix together.  Also, throw in some cinnamon stick if you have some, as the cinnamon flavor blends wonderfully with fresh sage and bay leaf.

Important:  Do not place traditional bread stuffing in the turkey cavity, the lower temperature is not safe for traditional stuffing.  We don’t care for traditional stuffing, anyway, but if you do, make some in a slow cooker.

Also, do not use a  turkey 19 pounds or larger; your turkey will not be as tender.  I’ve used this recipe with 9-18 pound turkeys.  And you must use a rack inside the roasting pan so that the turkey essentially steams and bastes itself as it roasts but does not just sit in the au jus.

Perfect and no fuss, melt-in-your mouth moist and tender.  Enjoy!

Mary Rae Fouts

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