Roast Turkey in Parts

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Cutting a turkey into parts is the easiest way to make sure that both the breast and leg meat come out cooked evenly and to the correct temperature.

Note: For best results, roast on a half sheet pan with a cooling rack instead of a regular roasting pan. I strongly recommend dry-brining your turkey by letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight at the end of step 1. For more details, read this article on dry-brining.

Roast Turkey in Parts

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 8 to 12
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:5 hours plus overnight rest if dry-brining
Special equipment:half sheet pan and wire rack
This recipe appears in: The Definitive Guide to Buying, Prepping, Cooking, and Carving Your Thanksgiving Turkey Should You Cook Your Turkey in Parts?

Ingredients

  • 1 whole turkey, 10 to 15 pounds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large stalks celery, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 quart homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tabespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon marmite
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Procedures

  1. 1

    Using a sharp knife, remove legs from turkey and set aside. Using a large cleaver or heavy chef's knife, cut backbone and carcass away from the turkey breast. Separate turkey wings from breast. Chop backbone and carcass into rough pieces with the cleaver. Season liberally with salt and pepper. For best results, transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and let rest uncovered overnight in refrigerator (see note above).

  2. 2

    Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F. Spread onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper evenly across bottom rimmed baking sheet. Pour 1 cup stock onto baking sheet (reserve remaining broth). Place rack on top of baking sheet (it may rest directly on top of vegetables—this is ok). Set aside. Place turkey on top of rack on top of vegetables, trying to leave a little space between each turkey piece.

  3. 3

    Roast turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of breast piece registers 150°F, 2 to 3 hours total. Remove breast and set aside. Continue roasting legs until instant-read thermometer registers 170°F, about 30 minutes longer (depending on arrangement, legs might finish at same time as breasts). Turkey pieces will not be browned. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Set fine meshed strainer over large bowl. Strain vegetables from tray. Reserve liquid and discard vegetables.

  4. 4

    While turkey is roasting, roughly chop carcass and neck into 1-inch chunks. Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over high-heat until just beginning to smoke. Add turkey carcass and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned on all surfaces, about 10 minutes. Add remaining stock. Add water until turkey pieces are barely covered. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to simmer while turkey roasts.

  5. 5

    While turkey is resting, pour stock through same strainer and add to reserved stock from strained vegetables. Discard solids. If desired, cut giblets into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat butter in medium saucepan over medium high heat until melted. Add giblets and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is light blond in color. Slowly whisk in reserved stock, marmite, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  6. 6

    30 minutes before serving turkey: Preheat oven to 500°F. Place turkey in oven and cook until crisp and browned, turning breast once during cooking. Serve immediately with gravy.

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