If you’re planning to roast a turkey, most likely it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or some other major holiday. However, turkey is a great dish to make anytime of year, especially if you like leftovers. Since not everyone has a large family, we’ve written this recipe for a small (8-10 pound) turkey. All of you finite foodies who must cook in a small kitchen with limited supplies and space will appreciate this.
A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of turkey per person, with no seconds or leftovers. We believe an 8-10 pound turkey is perfect for 4-6 people to feast on and enjoy leftovers. (Think of it this way: most chickens weigh 3-5 pounds.) If you’re serving 8-10 people, you might want a 12-pound turkey, just to be sure there’s plenty.
We recommend ordering a small turkey, or you might not find one otherwise. Avoid the major brands, which add water, fillers, and flavorings and are therefore not necessarily gluten-free. Look for turkeys raised without hormones and antibiotics, or splurge and buy an organic turkey!
We recommend buying a disposable aluminum roasting pan for easy cleanup and to free up the limited amount of bakeware you own, especially if you’re cooking a large spread for the holidays.
However, you can also use your 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet if you choose to. In that case, line it with a wide piece of foil or two strips that will give you about 4-6 extra inches along the sides. Fold the sides in half and stand up like this:
For the Herb Butter, it’s best to use fresh, not dried herbs. One of these days we plan to try this with coconut oil instead of butter, but we don’t see why it wouldn’t turn out just fine. Feel free to add French tarragon, oregano, basil, or parsley as well, but keep the three main herbs in the mix. We like to make the Herb Butter the day before then let it sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes before we’re ready to assemble the turkey. (If you don’t have any herbs, that’s ok. Just leave out the Herb Butter and simply season the turkey with salt and pepper, like we do with our simple Roast Chicken.)
Our cooking times are based on a turkey that is NOT stuffed, since that’s what we recommend. Once you stuff a turkey, the cooking time must be increased to insure that all bacteria has been killed in the interior, but that also means the exterior meat will be overcooked, which is one reason we don’t do it. We typically truss our turkey as well, which can lengthen the cooking time slightly over an untrussed turkey. (We prefer the look of a trussed turkey if you plan to bring it out whole to the table. If you plan to carve it before anyone sees it, then go ahead and leave it untrussed.) See How to Truss a Chicken or Turkey, Regardless, you’ll have to check the turkey with a meat thermometer, one of the kitchen gadgets on our Essentials list, to know when it’s done. The general rule of thumb is 13-15 minutes per pound. Every oven is different, so don’t leave it to chance. Buy a meat thermometer (not expensive) and use it!