I'm going old school this year...the way I first started cooking turkey back in the early 80's. I'm going to use a cooking bag. First, because it is just so easy. Second, because it gives you a fantastic, moist turkey without all of the problems associated with brining.
Traditional roasting of a turkey gives you that incredible mahogany skin...a thing of true beauty. But if you roast big birds like I do (20+ pounds), the turkey is going to really dry out in the oven. So to compensate for the loss of moisture associated with conventional roasting of big birds, you need to brine the turkey. I find brining a huge hassle. Great results, but a huge hassle. Consider that you will need one gargantuan vessel to brine it in. And when you are done brining, that vessel and it's liquid will be more toxic than the Love Canal.
So I'm breaking out the Reynolds Oven Bags...turkey size...made to handle 8-24 pound birds. Open the bag, toss in a tablespoon of flour, a little celery, a little onion, one huge honkin' turkey and three hours later that 21 pound turkey is done. Pop it out of the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes and then carve it up. You will be amazed at how moist and delicious the turkey is. The key? The oven bag holds in all of the moisture during cooking.
1 turkey (12-24 pounds*)
1 tablespoon flour
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 Reynolds oven bag (turkey size)
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Shake flour in Reynolds Oven Bag; place in roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Spray inside of bag with nonstick spray to reduce sticking, if desired.
- Add vegetables to oven bag. Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey; pat dry. Brush turkey with olive oil. Sprinkle turkey with paprika. Place turkey in bag on top of vegetables.
- Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2–inch slits in top. Tuck ends of bag in pan.
- Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 to 16 lb. turkey, 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey, and 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey. Remove from oven and let stand in oven bag 15 minutes. If turkey sticks to bag, gently loosen bag from turkey before opening oven bag. Remove bag, carve and serve.
* Estimate 2 pounds per person for generous servings with leftovers.