It was a pickup line I could not ignore: "Create an unbelievably delicious turkey in an incredibly short time." Pamphlets prominently displayed next to a big bin of frozen turkeys at the Safeway promised that any bird, from 10 to 22 pounds, could be cooked in two hours or less.
I was skeptical.
"I consider it a flawless recipe," said Betsy Bateson, a contributing editor to Sunset magazine and a member of the Sunset team that developed and tested the recipe for Safeway. "It will work 100 percent of the time."
I was even more skeptical.
Beth Newman, 36, a self-described hobby cook from Silver Spring, was one of about 40 home cooks who tested the recipe for Safeway. After receiving an invitation from the company -- Newman had provided her e-mail address and a profile when she registered on its Web site -- she got cooking. Her opinion: "It looked great, the meat was moist, the quantity and quality of the drippings was great and even days later the dark meat was moist."
After hanging up, I asked myself whether this two-hour turkey, which has been heavily promoted, really could work.
I've tested dozens of turkey cooking methods, and my interest is piqued by anything new. Moreover, anytime anyone declares a recipe flawless, I want to try it. Flaws are a matter of opinion, and as a skeptic I was looking for them.
The recipe itself was simple, clear, detailed and, as a result, long. It is a fine-tuned take on high-heat roasting. The turkey is placed according to detailed directions in a preheated 475-degree oven and roasted until the meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. The roasting pan is removed from the oven, and the turkey is allowed to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. (The pamphlet has 10-step directions with a time chart and step-by-step pictures.)
To be fair, I first cooked a comparably sized "control" turkey in a traditional manner. In a 325-degree oven, that bird took 3 hours and 45 minutes to reach a moist degree of doneness.
My control turkey done, I roasted my "main" turkey following Safeway's directions.
One hour and 40 minutes later, I was happily surprised. My bird was a beautiful deep brown color, and the thermometer was at the recommended 160 degrees. The legs had pulled away slightly from the bird, and I could see that the dark meat was cooked.
I still had to allow the turkey to rest.
After the resting period, I sliced into the turkey. The white meat was moist and flavorful. The dark meat was equally well cooked, and though the recipe did give instructions for what to do if the dark meat needs additional cooking, my bird was cooked through and no further cooking was needed. The skin was crisp.
I got the same results Newman had reported and Bateson had promised.
I have a new recipe for roast turkey, and I'm holding onto it.
Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, a former Food section recipe editor, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.