Roast turkey on a vegetarian site??
Well, I make an exception at Thanksgiving, since my husband and I cook the traditional feast every year. This is part of the Thanksgiving menu.
There's a lot of advice out there on roasting the perfect turkey. My daughter had told me about the Alton Brown method of roasting turkey, and it sounded good to me.
The method is simple. Clean out the turkey, removing the neck, giblets, etc. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. I like to put the turkey neck in some water and/or chicken broth (left over from making the stuffing) and simmer it while the turkey roasts. Then I use it for making the gravy.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan and spoon in the stuffing. Tie legs together if necessary (our turkeys came with a metal doohickey that kept the legs together). Rub the turkey with olive oil (I just pour some on and use my fingers to spread it around). Put the turkey in the oven and roast for a half hour at 500 degrees.
Then turn down the oven to 325 degrees (Alton Brown says 350, but we went a bit lower, to good effect). I opened the oven door just a bit so the oven would cool a little faster. At this point, Brown places a triangular piece of foil over the breast, pointy end toward the legs. I forgot to do this, however, and waited until much later in the cooking process. It came out fine--beautifully and evenly browned--but you might want to try it his way.
I did not baste the turkey at all. Alton Brown says that this really doesn't do anything for the turkey, and all that opening of the oven means the turkey takes longer to cook. Also, when it comes time to de-fat the juices for making gravy, there's much less fat this way. The turkey was juicy and delicious, and I will never baste a turkey again!
The turkey should sit for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve it. You can pop other things into the oven and make the gravy during this time.
We always deglaze the roasting pan, adding water to it as it sits over a burner and stirring the browned bits up. After we've deglazed, we pour the juices through a strainer into a large, deep skillet. I add the broth from the turkey necks and a little water until it tastes right, not too strong but deeply and beautifully flavored. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some dried thyme (start with a quarter-teaspoon and taste, adding more if you wish). We use arrowroot or cornstarch, not flour, to thicken the gravy, blending a couple of heaping teaspoons with just a little water and adding carefully, keeping an eye on how it's thickening.
James does the carving and then, in a final flurry of activity, it's all done and another Thanksgiving feast is ready to be devoured.