Atlanta Restaurant Scene

Upside down you're turning me, you're giving love to the turkey

Hey, turkey cookers: I just got a request for my recipe for upside-down roast turkey, which is definitely the preferred preparation in our household. I figured I'd share it with everyone.

This method does require one piece of special equipment --  a V-shaped roasting rack that adjusts with notches kind of like a patio lounge chair. If you have one on your island of misfit kitchen gadgets, you should definitely give it a spin. If you're intrigued and want to purchase one, you can usually find them at Cook's Warehouse.

Also, if you're feeling as bleary and unsettled as I do this morning and wish you could inject a little positive energy into your community and your country, then I've got the perfect solution:

Click this link. 

For each dollar you donate, the Atlanta Community Food Bank can supply more than $9 in groceries to food-insecure families in Atlanta. ACFB does so much beyond its core mission of supplying food. It educates the general public, coordinates a complex network of more than 600 non-profit partners throughout north Georgia and provides fellowship for its supporters through meet-ups and social activities.

Okay, I'm going to donate right now. Then I need to find my V-shaped rack, which I think is wedged in a cabinet between the bamboo steamer and the juicer.

John Kessler's Upside-Down Turkey

Makes 18 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3-3 1/2 hours
Standing time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, divided
  • 1 (18-pound) turkey, fresh or thawed
  • 3 or 4 branches fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Position oven rack in lowest position and preheat to 325 degrees. Remove the turkey from the fridge and allow it to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

Reserve turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Pat turkey skin dry. Place thyme, garlic and onion in turkey cavity and season well with salt and pepper. Turn turkey on its breast. Fold wings behind back or tie to body with kitchen string. Place drumsticks in hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.

Brush breast-side-up turkey all over with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Place turkey, breast side down, on an oiled V-shaped rack in roasting pan. Brush all over with melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast turkey for 2 hours. Remove roasting pan from oven, and using wads of paper towels or turkey lifters (gadgets that look like small pitchforks), turn the turkey breast side up and place back in the V-shaped rack. Baste well with pan juices. Baste every 15 minutes and cook for about another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees. (See note.)

Transfer turkey to large serving platter and let stand at least 20 minutes before carving.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I roast the turkey only until the thermometer reads 165-170 degrees. Though the USDA does not recommend this practice, many experts say that an unstuffed turkey is pathogen-free by the time this temperature is reached. You can find a good discussion of this issue, bolstered with independent tests, in "The Cook's Illustrated Complete Book of Poultry" (Potter, $32.50).

Per serving: 376 calories, 48 grams protein, 18 grams fat (percent calories from fat, 44), 1 gram carbohydrates, 145 milligrams cholesterol, 136 milligrams sodium, trace fiber.

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About the Author

John is a former AJC dining columnist

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