Thaw Frozen Turkey: 3 days in refrigerator Prep 60 mins Roast 3 hours Eat 4 hours
Roasting a turkey in a convection oven has its advantages. The turkey cooks faster, more evenly and it ends up very moist, even the breast. I have roasted numerous turkeys in a convection oven and they always get rave reviews from my guests. It’s not difficult to do. You just need a little patience and a plan to start early. If you don’t have a convection oven, follow along and add a little more time to roast your turkey in a conventional oven.
Defrost a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for a few days leading up to the big day. Prep stuffing ingredients and clean the bird. Remove the giblets and the neck from the cavity and wash it out with water. If it was frozen, you may need to run warm water to get the last bit of ice out of the cavity. Save the giblets and the neck to make a stock for an easy lump-free gravy while the turkey is cooking. Set aside the turkey, while you make the stuffing and preheat the oven. 300° convection, 325° conventional.
Heat oil in a skillet and add in onion, celery and green pepper and diced apples. Cook until soft and add in thyme, sage, along with mix-ins like pecans, dried cherries or cranberries or raisins, then add the stuffing mix. You can use packaged bread crumbs or diced bread cubes. I save leftover bread cubes in the freezer for stuffing or croutons, so this is a good time to use them. After all, stuffing was invented to use up leftover bread. It would be a shame to dry out fresh bread for this purpose!
Add chicken stock or broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten it. I use Better than Bouillion chicken base mixed with water, but you can also use fresh or canned stock.
Then lightly but with a firm touch stuff the bird with the stuffing mixture. There are two cavities to fill. The main opening plus a hidden spot on the other side where the neck flap is. It is surprising how much stuffing you can fit into these two places.
For a convection oven, use an open pan so that the air can circulate around the turkey, such as this broiler pan that has a drip tray. You can also use a heavy roasting pan with a rack, but do not cover the pan. Place the stuffed turkey into the preheated oven and baste it with the turkey broth in a bulb baster every 45-60 minutes (See how to make broth here). A 12-15 pound turkey should roast in about 3 hours in a convection oven or about 12 minutes per pound and until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Take the turkey out of the oven and place an instant read thermometer in between the breast and the thigh. It will take about 10% longer in a conventional oven and it will take longer for a larger turkey.
Try this idea of placing bacon strips on the breast of the turkey. It will add flavor, keep the breast extra moist and you can remove the bacon strips at the end and crumble them to use in your Brussels Sprouts.
Serve your turkey with these Thanksgiving sides: Easy Lump-Free Turkey Gravy, Yams and Swiss Chard or Kale Gratin, Cranberry Sauce, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon or not, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts and finish your meal with Sweet Potato Pie or Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. Follow my easy steps and you will have a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Roast Turkey with Fruit Stuffing
This recipe is a guide for making stuffing. You can vary the vegetables and fruit, based on what you have on hand. I like my stuffing inside the bird – one less dish to go into the oven or think about. This recipe is enough to stuff a 12-15 pound turkey. Feel free to use whatever bread or bread cubes you have available, including from a package in the same quantity as below.
12-15 pound turkey
3 Tbs canola oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
2 medium apples, cored and diced
1 cup raisins, dried cherries and/or cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme Leaves
1 Tbs fresh sage leaves
2 Tbs parsley chopped
1 pinch salt & pepper to taste
12 ounces seasoned corn bread
3 slices wheat bread, cubed
2 cups chicken stock
1. On medium heat, pour canola oil in skillet and then add onion. Cook onions a few minutes or until they begin to wilt. Add celery, green pepper and apples. Cook another 5-10 minutes or until the ingredients become limp. Add the thyme, sage and parsley, salt and pepper and remove from heat.
2. If your pan is large enough, add the pecans, dried fruit, stuffing and bread cubes and stir or put all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chicken stock and get ready to stuff your bird.
3. Salt and pepper the turkey all over inside the cavities and on the outside of the bird. Carefully season between the skin and meat on the breast and sides next to the thighs. I probably use more than 1 Tablespoon or more of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Use more if needed to coat all locations. This will make the bird taste better and stay moist.
4. Loosely stuff the stuffing into both cavities – the front and the neck opening. You can compact the stuffing slightly into the corners. Pile up any extra stuffing between the legs. The neck opening needs to be closed shut with the flap and with small metal turkey skewers.
5. Roast the turkey at 325° or 300° in a convection oven. A 12-15 pound turkey should roast in about 3 hours in a convection oven or about 12 minutes per pound and until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Place an instant read thermometer in between the breast and the thigh. It will take about 10% longer in a conventional oven and it will take longer for a larger turkey. Baste the turkey occasionally (once every 45 minutes) with home-made turkey stock from the giblets. Let the turkey sit while finishing your side dishes before carving.
Servings: 12 617 calories per serving