Besides the fact that most old fashion Heritage turkeys are also raised the old fashioned way — with plenty of grass and sunshine — they need to be cooked quite differently than their modern, factory-farmed counterparts. Skip the brine, and follow this recipe for a truly delectable Thanksgiving turkey. Remember to reserve the roasted bones and simmer slowly for hours to make a rich, unforgettable turkey stock.
Recipe: Simple Heritage Roast Turkey Adapted from a recipe Published November 7, 2007 in the NY Times
Time: 2 to 3 1/2 hours, depending on size of turkey
1 12-to 18-pound heritage turkey, with giblets and neck removed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 medium onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, cut in two or three pieces each
1 medium apple, halved
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups turkey broth, water or a mixture of half water and half apple juice.
1. At least four hours before roasting, rub turkey inside and out with salt and pepper; refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 45 minutes before roasting, place on cooking rack in pan and put ice packs on breast meat (you may have to tie them in place with string or ace bandages). Let the rest of the turkey come up to room temperature while the oven is heating. Remove ice packs and roast turkey according to the recipe. Breast meat is drier and doesn’t need to cook as long as the dark meat. Starting the breast meat cold and the dark meat at room temperature will allow you to pull out a properly cooked bird all at the same time.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Set turkey in roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack. Stuff vegetables, apple and thyme into cavity. Tuck wingtips under bird.
3. Pour broth or water into pan, around bird. Put turkey in oven and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325, baste turkey with pan juices, cover with a foil tent and return to oven. Cook for another 30 minutes. Remove foil, baste again and place foil back on turkey. Cook for 30 more minutes. Remove foil.
4.When turkey has roasted for a total of two hours, insert a meat thermometer straight down into fleshiest part of thigh, where it meets drumstick. Check a second spot, then remove thermometer. (Do not let thermometer touch bone.) Target temperature for thigh meat is 165 degrees, juices should run clear at this temperature. (If bird is larger than 14 pounds, keep foil on longer and begin checking meat temperature at two and half hours.)
5. When bird has reached desired temperature, remove from oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes, covered in foil and with a damp towel on top of foil, to retain heat and allow juices to return to meat. Remove foil and towel, carve and serve.