Every Thanksgiving, The Good Plate goes crazy with people wanting to know how to roast a perfect turkey in a Nesco oven. Since I wrote the first article in 2009, I have made some significant changes to the preparation of the bird, mostly to cut down on time, but also to increase flavor and crispness of the skin. This year, in 2015, my bird was truly perfect, and everyone exclaimed about how much they don’t like breast meat because it’s too dry, but loved mine because it was nice and moist. If you want the older recipe with the liquid brine, please visit How to Make a Perfect Turkey in a Nesco Roaster Oven.
Roll It Up!
In 2017, a friend called me and said that a friend gave her a 25 pound turkey, but she had a 40 pound and wanted to know if I wanted to 25 pound turkey. I was surprised, I didn’t even know the turkeys got that big. I told her I would be happy to have her extra turkey. But, then when I brought it into the kitchen, I realized it would not fit in my Nesco Roaster, so I had to do some creative thinking. I had recently watched Chef John of Food Wishes debone stuff and roll up a whole turkey. I knew that if I deboned this turkey, it would fit nicely into the Nesco. I deboned it, then I put a dry brine, rolled it up, injected it and roasted it. You know what? It was great! Maybe the best part was I was able to make the most flavorful stock out of that carcass, froze it, and I use it to make risotto. If you want to see how to debone a turkey, watch Chef John’s method.
I decided that I’m going to roll up the turkey from now on. If you do it right, you get a roll that is even, so no having to worry about breast getting done before the legs are. Of course, with a Nesco, that’s not a problem because of the unique circle of heat. Carving a rolled up turkey is child’s play – just put the roll on a cutting board, get a sharp carving knife, and cut slices, I cut mine about a half inch thick. If you have any left over, the next day, when it’s cold, it’s even easier to slice thinly for sandwiches.
Why Roast in a Nesco?
The reason the Nesco makes such a delectable bird is because of the patented circle of heat. It’s also great because it frees your oven up for casseroles and desserts, and doesn’t heat your kitchen as much as a conventional oven. One caveat, don’t try to put a 30 pound turkey in an 18 quart Nesco, the largest would probably be 18 pounds – mine are usually 12-13 pounds. There should be ample flow of air around the bird, and it should not be touching the sides of the oven.
Here’s the process
|4½-7 lbs.||2-2½ hrs.||2¼-2¾ hrs.|
|7-9 lbs.||2½-3 hrs.||2¾-4½ hrs.|
|9-18 lbs.||3-3½ hrs.||3¾-4½ hrs|
- Dry brine the bird the day before. I used sea salt and Herbs de Provence. I covered both the outside and inside of the bird, as well as under the breast. Dry brining helps crisp up the skin, and keep the meat moist.
- Preheat the Nesco to 325.
- Inject the bird with an injection. I used turkey stock and white wine. Inject all over, especially the breast.
- I never stuff my turkey with anything other than the vegetable ends I’ve used to make the dressing, onion and celery.
- Roast your bird according to the following time-table.
- As soon as the bird is thoroughly cooked, and reached 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer, turn the heat off on the Nesco, but leave the bird to rest inside.
- Let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Have a great meal!
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 turkey neck
- 2 tsp turkey or chicken base
- 1 tsp white Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine
- Mix the salt and herbs together then thoroughly rub the turkey, including the inside and under the breast skin if possible. You may need more or less salt depending on the size of your bird.
- When you have finished, leave the bird uncovered in the refrigerator until time to cook, 24 to 36 hours.
- When you are ready to cook the bird, remove the cooking well from an 18 quart Nesco and preheat the roaster to 325.
- Mix the remaining ingredients together and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the neck and discard it.
- Put the turkey on the rack in the cooking well of the Nesco roaster. Strain the injection liquid if needed. Fill your injection needle with some of the juice and start injecting the bird all over, especially in the breast and thighs.
- Carefully place the cooking well inside the Nesco roaster and roast the bird until it reaches 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 3 hours, depending on the size.
- Turn off the roaster and let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. You can put the carved turkey back in the Nesco at 200 to keep warm.