1. Remove all contents inside bird.
2. Wash your turkey inside and out with cool water.
3. Dry off bird with paper towels.
4. Season inside body cavity with salt, pepper and aromatic vegetables such as garlic cloves, onions, celery, parsley stems & bay leaves ~ any combination or all of the above would be great.
5. Season meat under skin with compound butter (soft butter, herbs, S&P, lemon juice or wine).
6. Tuck legs into (usually provided)“tail” skin slit to keep legs together during cooking. Tuck wings back behind bird to lift it off of pan. Instead of tucking these parts, you may want to truss or tie the bird into position.
7. Oil or butter the outside of bird for better browning. This also allows outside seasoning to stick.
8. Season outside of bird with salt, pepper and/or cayenne pepper if preparing Cajun stuffing.
9. Sear outside of bird in high heat (450 F) oven for about 10 – 15 minutes or until even golden brown color is achieved. May want to cover breast with foil after browning is achieved.
10. Reduce heat to about 325 F and cook according to manufacturers suggestions depending on the weight of your bird. (i.e. 3 – 3 ½ hours for a 14 lb bird)
11. Using a cooking thermometer, check between thigh and breast for an internal temperature of 165 F.
12. Let bird rest (removed from heat and sitting without cutting or stabbing) for at least 15 minutes up to 30 minutes before carving. If you cut the bird while it is still piping hot, the heat and boiling juices will rush out of the bird and your meat will be dry. If you allow the bird to cool slightly, the meat will relax, recoil and reabsorb some of the juices.