Successfully roasting a turkey is actually quite a simple feat but deciding how to cook the turkey can be confusing. Cookware stores and grocery stores sell deep turkey roasting pans, basting tools and brining kits, yet in a Convection oven we simply place the seasoned turkey on the oven broil pan or in a shallow pan with a rack and roast it without turning or basting it and in much less time.
Before you plan your Thanksgiving menu it will be helpful if you understand the different cooking methods you can choose from. A turkey can be roasted using either Convection or Radiant heat with fabulous results, but there are many advantages to cooking in Convection and since recipes typically don’t mention cooking in Convection here is an outline of the differences.
Roasting with Convection
In Convection the heated air in the oven is continuously circulated penetrating the food from the outside to the center.
- Meats should be cooked on a rack in a shallow pan for maximum exposure and to prevent juices from being leeched out by the heat of the pan.
- Pan juices will be minimal, however the juices can be easily captured prior to carving and yield up to 4 cups for gravy. Refer to the Thanksgiving Video in the Video Library section of Larissa’s Corner to see how it’s done.
- Turning and basting are not required when roasting in Convection.
- Higher temperatures than standard recipe temperatures are used when roasting turkey in Convection and cooking times are much shorter.
- Once the turkey is resting multiple side dishes can be cooked in the oven at one time ensuring that all the dishes are hot and ready at the same time. In short using Convection makes the cooking easy, the timing is perfect and the results are fabulous.
Roasting with Radiant Heat
In a radiant heat oven the heat rises from the bottom of the oven to the top drying out the food on the way. When meat is placed directly on a pan such as a typical turkey roaster, the heat of the pan leeches the juices out and fills up the pan, so continued basting and turning is required to prevent drying. When cooking in radiant heat low temperatures are advised for even cooking and cooking times are much longer. Because heat distribution is uneven it is often difficult to cook other foods at the same time.
To Brine or Not To Brine
Brining is a technique that infuses flavor and moisture into lean meats to prevent them from drying out during long cooking times. For best results cook brined meats in the Roast or Bake mode to effectively absorb the excess moisture. When cooked in Convection brined meats are certainly flavorful but slightly soggy due to the moisture retention characteristic of Convection cooking.
A meat probe is a useful tool that can help prevent overcooking meats especially with the faster cooking time experienced when cooking large cuts of meat in Convection. However it is advisable to check the meat in several places with an instant read thermometer to ensure the correct internal temperature has been reached. If your oven is not equipped with a meat probe use the following guide for timing. If you are not using Convection follow the temperature and timing of your recipe.
Timing Guide for Convection Roasting
The timing we have established for roasting turkeys in Convection is based on the following criteria:
- Letting the turkey sit outside of the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Cooking the turkey without stuffing.
- Roasting the turkey on a rack in a shallow pan with the legs swinging free.
- Cooking the turkey in the Convection Roast mode at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then reducing the temperature to 350 degrees/375 for large capacity ovens, for the remainder of the cooking time.
- Cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 160-170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh and allow it to rest for 20 minutes prior to carving, in this time the internal temperature rises to 180 degrees.
|Turkey weight||Cooking time||Resting time|
|10-12 lb. turkey||1 ½ hours||20 minutes|
|12-15 lb. turkey||1 ¾ hours||20 minutes|
|15-20 lb. turkey||2 hours||20 minutes|
|20-25 lb. turkey||2 ½ hours||20 minutes|
Making the Gravy
When roasting in Convection you will be wondering where all the juice is, but after the 20-minute resting period pick up the turkey with two kitchen towels and drain the juices into a bowl, you will be amazed at how much comes pouring out.
The next step will be to skim off the fatty liquid that rises to the top of the bowl and discard it then add the liquid gravy. Be sure to use a rimmed carving board because even more juices will start to flow as you carve the bird.
Whichever method you choose for making the gravy, it’s good to start with a giblet stock for added flavor and extra liquid. The giblet stock can be made the day before when you wash and season the turkey.
Method 1-Make a roux and add the giblet stock and cooking juices from the turkey.
Method 2-Make a giblet stock, deglaze the roasting pan, make a roux in the pan and add the giblet stock and cooking juices, this method gives you the advantage of also scraping up all the luscious caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan.
Convection Roasted Turkey
Roast Turkey with Fresh Herbs and Bourbon Gravy
Harvest Vegetable Medley
Sourdough Stuffing with Apples
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Meal Preparation Tips
Preparing an entire feast in one day is overwhelming so do as much preparation the day before as you can. If you are baking any pies or desserts they are best done earlier in the day or the day before. I have only included recipes for two oven side dishes but remember that many other side dishes that you might typically cook in a saucepan can also be cooked in the oven and when you are orchestrating the cooking of a large feast the less you have to fuss with the easier it will be.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
- Remove the turkey from the wrapping, remove the giblets from both cavities wash the bird inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Season the turkey as per the recipe, place on a shallow pan and cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator. This is an important step and you will be amazed at the difference in flavor.
- Make the giblet stock that is the base for the gravy, as per the recipe.
- Prep the vegetables for the vegetable medley and for any other side dishes you plan to serve.
- Make the cranberry sauce.
- Prepare the stuffing, cool, cover and refrigerate.
Thanksgiving Day-Timing the Feast
- Cooking time- a 15-20lb un-stuffed turkey will take approximately 2 hours to cook in Convection as per our recipe.
- Resting time-allow at least 20 minutes for the turkey to rest before carving.
- Carving time-allow at least 15-20 minutes for carving the turkey.
- During the 40 minutes of resting and carving time-
- Cook the roasted vegetable medley, stuffing and any other oven side dishes.
- Make the gravy.
Herb Rubbed Roast Turkey
- 1-Turkey giblets removed, washed in cold water inside and out and dried
with paper towels
- 2-tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1-teaspoon dried or minced fresh thyme
- 1-teaspoon kosher salt
- ½-teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-tablespoon olive oil
- 1-medium yellow onion halved
- 4-fresh sage leaves coarsely chopped
Carefully separate the skin from the breast using the point of a sharp knife.
Combine the Old Bay, thyme, salt and pepper with the oil in a small bowl and wearing latex gloves rub the seasoning into the flesh under the skin of the turkey and smear the remainder over the skin. Place the onion and sage leaves in the large cavity. Seasoning the turkey the day before cooking noticeably improves the flavor.
Organize the oven racks to accommodate the turkey and pre-heat the oven
to 400 degrees Convection Roast. The turkey is best cooked on rack position 2.
Place the turkey on a rack in a shallow pan, leaving the legs to swing free. Because turkeys cook faster in Convection this ensures that the heat can properly penetrate the coldest and thickest part between the thigh and the body.
Insert the oven meat probe (if your oven is equipped with one) into the thickest part of the breast near the thigh.
Slide the turkey into the oven and insert the meat probe into the receptacle.
Program the temperature probe to 170 degrees and set the timer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes reduce the temperature to:
- 375 degrees for a large capacity wall or range oven (30″ or 36″)
- 350 for a smaller wall oven (24″ or 27″)
Once the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, the leg moves freely and the juices of the thigh run clear when pierced, remove the turkey and place on the counter to rest. During the resting time the internal temperature will rise to 180 degrees.