Bragg Family Roast Turkey 12.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Nov 14, 2018

If you can put aside the look of a bronzed, roasted bird and want to serve the moistest, most decadent turkey, this recipe's for you. It is effectively steamed/poached in buttery juices. Its preparation is among the easiest we have ever tested.

You’ll need a roasting pan with a vented lid, or you can use aluminum foil.

12 , plus leftovers

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 , plus leftovers

  • One 16-to-18-pound turkey, giblet packet removed
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups water


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven (remove upper racks); preheat to 350 degrees. Have a lidded, shallow roasting pan at hand (or foil if the pan does not have a lid).

Use paper towels to pat the turkey dry, inside and out. Rub it with the oil, inside and out, then rub it with the salt (use the full 3 tablespoons on an 18-pounder), inside and out. Tuck the wings under the bird and place the turkey in the pan.

Rinse the neck and gizzard, then place them in the bird or in the pan. Place all the butter inside the turkey cavity. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan. Cover with the lid so it is slightly ajar, or cover tightly with foil; poke a few holes in the foil so steam can escape.

Roast (lower rack) for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, removing the lid or foil halfway through just long enough to baste the bird with pan juices. Re-cover before returning to the oven. Uncover the turkey during the last 25 minutes of oven time to let it pick up a bit of golden color, if desired.

The bird is done when the internal temperature of the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and the thigh meat registers 165 to 175 degrees (taken away from the bone).

Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Strain the pan juices and serve as is, or use them to make a pan gravy.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Best Cook in the World: Tales From My Momma’s Table,” by Rick Bragg (Alfred A, Knopf, 2018).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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