Originally published Nov. 23, 2011.
By Patty Jones
I want to share a family secret with you – one long held in the Jones family holiday tradition – on the accepted method of “flipping the bird” at Thanksgiving.
Many years ago my mother stumbled through her early morning Thanksgiving ritual of prepping a huge turkey for the afternoon feast. Before her first cup of coffee she dropped the bird in the roasting pan and shoved it into the oven. A couple of hours later she opened the oven door and she realized she had put it in the pan upside (or breast-side) down. At this point the huge bird was too hot to handle so she basted it, tented it and shoved it back into the oven. The resulting bird has lingered in mouthwatering memory…
Prepare your turkey as you normally would, wash it, dry it, season it. We never stuff our bird because stuffing tends to draw moisture out of the meat and takes it much longer to roast. We’ve also found that there is no need to truss the legs or wings when you use a “V” shaped roasting rack, so the prep is real simple.
Place your turkey breast side down in your roasting rack in a regular roasting pan. Roast it at the recommended temperature and time for the size of your bird (usually found on the outer wrapper). The major differences in this method is you don’t need to baste and if you want gravy from the drippings you will need to add water to the pan because most all of the juice stays in the meat. I gradually add a couple of cups of water to the pan over the course of the roasting time, we like lots of gravy.
After the skin browns the way you want it to, tent the top of the turkey with some aluminum foil. The wings will get pretty crispy but the rest of the meat is so wonderfully moist you won’t mind one little bit. This turkey is strictly meant for eating, and is not a “presentation bird” in the classic sense. And if you carve it in the kitchen your guests will never know the secret to the best turkey they ever had… Enjoy!