How to Roast a Small Turkey

Since we went away for Thanksgiving (and had a fabulous dinner at my sister’s!), my girls’ were feeling shortchanged. My sister generously sent us home with some leftover turkey, among other things, but after a batch of turkey enchiladas and a few sandwiches, it was gone. I bought a turkey and fixed it last weekend, without all the trimmings.

I decided to try out the method Pamela Anderson has in her book The Perfect Recipe, which is a bit different than other recipes I’ve used. I love how she describes all the methods she tried to get at the perfect recipe. You don’t buy this book for the quantity of recipes but the quality. Every single thing I’ve tried has been superb. The turkey was no exception.

I didn’t have a chance to brine the frozen turkey I bought, as she recommends. But I did use her method of cooking.

How to Roast a Small Turkey

  • 10-12 pound turkey, giblets removed
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400

Put some of the chopped onion, carrot, and celery mixed with thyme on the bottom of the roasting pan and add 1 cup of water

Put the rest of the chopped onion, carrot, thyme, and a bit of melted butter inside the turkey

Put a v-rack in the roast pan. Baste the turkey all over with some melted butter and start the turkey breast side down.

Cook the turkey for 45 minutes.

Use paper towels to hold the hot turkey and turn it on its SIDE. Baste with melted butter and cook another 20 minutes.

Turn the turkey onto its other side, baste and cook another 20 minutes.

Finally, turn the turkey breast side UP, baste, and cook another 45 minutes or so, until a meat thermometer in the leg registers 170-175F and one in the breast 160-165.

  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Put some chopped onion, carrot, and celery mixed with thyme on the bottom of the roasting pan and add 1 cup of water
  • Put some chopped onion, carrot, thyme, and a bit of melted butter inside the turkey
  • Put a v-rack in the roast pan. Baste the turkey all over with some melted butter and start the turkey breast side down. Cook for 45 minutes.
  • Use paper towels to hold the hot turkey and turn it on its SIDE. This is the part that was totally unique to me, but makes total sense. Baste with melted butter and cook another 20 minutes.
  • Turn the turkey onto its other side, baste and cook another 20 minutes.
  • Finally, turn the turkey breast side UP, baste, and cook another 45 minutes or so, until a meat thermometer in the leg registers 170-175F and one in the breast 160-165. Mine, at 11 pounds, did this right on the money.

The meat was excellent. Nothing dried out but everything cooked.

We had a friend for dinner and ate quite a bit the first night. The next day was gingerbread house decorating all day. After eating candy for a few hours, everyone wanted something non-sweet. I made up our favorite turkey salad spread. Mmmm!

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