Martha's Perfect Roast Turkey
photo by Chicagoland Chef du
- Ready In:
- 6hrs 30mins
- 1 (20 -21 lb) fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved
- 1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- turkey stuffing
- 1 cup dry red wine (optional) or 1 cup white wine, for gravy (optional)
- giblet stock
- Rinse turkey with cool water, and dry with paper towels. Let stand for hours at room temperature.
- Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, four-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine; let soak.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably; do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under, and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter, and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper.
- Lift cheesecloth out of liquid, and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. and continue to cook for 2 1/2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.
- After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.
- After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180 degrees.(stuffing should be between 140 degrees.and 160 degrees. and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven, and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.
- When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter, and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices, and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2 1/2 cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve with turkey.
Questions & Replies
This is a game changer! I discovered this recipe about 10 years ago and while looks aren't everthing, it comes out looking like turkey bling. First time I tried it, I received gasps from guests at the perfect texture and color. I got the jabs too for turning into Martha. After a few years, guests expected nothing less than perfection. I improvised a few times and have done several versions of herbed butter stuffed under the skin of the breasts (herbs de Provence is subtle) and that increased the already, as-is succulent meat of this recipe if followed closely on basting. Guys and gals, there's a reason Martha and her talented staff are so successful. Whoda Thunkit? Martha's Turkey Bling!
This is THE roast turkey recipe I have used every time since finding it. It took me years of experimenting with so many other recipes to finally find this one, and I have had 100% success with it every time! The only thing that I do different is I don't stuff it. I am not a fan of stuffing that has been cooked in the bird, so instead, I rub the inside with butter, salt, and pepper, then I place fresh sage, rosemary and a thyme inside the cavity. I also always brine the turkey for at least 24 hours, but no more than 48 using the brine recipe that goes along with this. Perfect turkey!
This actually Martha's Turkey 101 and without a doubt always turns out perfect. Moist, flavorful, beautiful color! I make turkey many times throughout the year and still experiment with techniques, but this is absolutely tried and true and the one I come back to. Though now, when time and my memory permits, I do brine it for a day or two as well just to put it over the top in subtle, aromatic, even flavor.
Seriously the best foolproof method for cooking a turkey. And it come out looking like it belongs on the cover of a magazine. I can only say that last year I brined my turkey for 24 hours, let it air dry overnight in fridge, and then cooked a la. Martha and the result was out of this world. doing it the same way again this year. Absolutely astounding.well worth the effort.