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Martha Stewart's First Thanksgiving Turkey Was a Disaster

Martha Stewart's First Thanksgiving Turkey Was a Disaster


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Take heart! Even Martha didn’t get it right the first time!

TV host Martha Stewart recalls burning the first ever turkey she made for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Fifty years ago, Martha Stewart completely burned the first Thanksgiving turkey she ever cooked for her family. In an exclusive tell-all with The Daily Mail, Stewart revealed the disaster that almost ruined her entire Thanksgiving and her first as a newlywed.

Stewart purchased a 30-pound turkey at a local turkey farm (because where else would Martha get her turkey? A grocery store? Dream on!) and put it in the oven at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving day so it could be enjoyed by her family by 1 p.m. as is their family tradition.

Understandably Stewart went back to sleep, assuming the turkey would cook and when she woke up that it would be nearly done. However, nothing went according to plan and when she woke up she recalled the house being full of black smoke. “My fateful mistake?” she admitted, “I preheated the oven to 500 degrees, then forgot to turn it down to 325.”

“I started to cry while we drove back to the turkey farm, where luckily one lone 30-pound turkey lay partially frozen in the walk-in freezer, a customer’s forgotten order. I grabbed it, rushed home, and placed it under running water to thaw it,” Stewart remembered.

The kitchen goddess, TV host, and cookbook author’s guests did not end up eating until 7 p.m., a full six hours later than originally planned. But when they did, “the turkey emerged glistening and golden, cooked to perfection,” she said.

If you ever find yourself with a turkey diaster like Martha and keep calm and call Butterball's turkey hotline where they can give you answers to the most-asked turkey and side questions.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, 4-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper.

Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140°F and 160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2½ cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.


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