If you don't enjoy the hassle of waking up early Thanksgiving morning to get the turkey started to make sure it will be ready in time for lunch/dinner, then try this overnight turkey method. Waking up to a fully cooked, super juicy turkey on Thanksgiving morning makes the turkey baking part done and your oven free and clear for everything else you need to make. It doesn’t get better than that.
1. Defrost and Rinse. After your turkey is defrosted give it a good rinsing in cool water inside and out. Let it air dry before cooking.
2. Season the Bird. Rub down the turkey with melted butter. If you choose to you can put this mixture together for rubbing down your turkey: melted butter, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, lemon juice, and a pinch of meat tenderizer. Be sure to completely cover the turkey, legs, wings and breast.
3. Pan it. Next move your turkey or turkey breast into a low roasting pan with a rack (the rack keeps your turkey out of the juices and also helps with air circulation so the bird cooks evenly). Pour some chicken stock in the bottom of the pan. You will use the stock mixed with the drippings for basting and making wonderful gravy later. **Some like to cook the bird on its breast overnight and then flip it in the morning. It's up to you what you would like to do.**
4. Tent the Bird. Fashion a tent out of aluminum foil and place it loosely over the breast of the turkey. This keeps moisture inside and protects the skin from getting over-done.
5. Start High. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pop the bird in and start him cooking at that temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Cook Turkey Overnight. Turn down your oven to just under or at 200 degrees and cook the turkey overnight. A twelve pound turkey unstuffed will take about 7 hours to cook through. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the deepest part of the breast reaches at least 165 degrees.
7. Crisp the Skin. If you wake up in the morning and the bird isn't done yet, you can turn up the temperature and remove the aluminum tent. This will give you some time to baste the skin and get it deliciously browned. Which is just a good idea anyway! It's best to leave time to do this either way.
8. Rest. Not you… the turkey! Having been up all night your turkey will be tired and needs to rest for 20-30 minutes before you carve into it.
9. Make the Gravy. While the turkey is resting, use the drippings to make a homemade turkey gravy.
10. Carve and Serve! Carve your rested turkey with a sharp knife or electric knife. **Note that if you prefer you can wait to carve the turkey until just before you serve dinner but try to avoid microwaving the meat.**