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Perfect Two-Stage Roast Turkey

The solution to the white meat/dark meat roast turkey problem is simple: remove the bird from the oven as soon as the white meat is cooked, slice off the copious turkey breast, and return the rest of the bird to the oven to finish cooking the dark meat. If you like showing the whole bird on a platter to your assemblage, do so, but remove the breast at the table and return the dark meat to the oven. While the rest of the bird is cooking, slice the breasts on a carving board at the table, and consider them a first course. One idea is to serve them with a light gravy and a white wine; when, 20 minutes later, the dark meat is ready, serve it with a darker gravy and a red wine as a second course. The following recipe is calibrated for a 14-pound turkey; add or subtract time depending on the size of the bird. Remember that a quick-read meat thermometer is the roaster's best friend. Serves 12

SKU 726-Recipe

  • 12 Serves


  • A whole 14-pound turkey
  • butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Smear the turkey with butter, then season well with salt and pepper. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan in the lower portion of the oven, legs toward the back. Roast until the turkey starts to turn golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and roast the turkey for about 1 1/2  hours, basting with the pan juices every 20 minutes or so. (The white meat is done when a quick-read thermometer reaches 150 degrees.)
  3. Remove turkey from oven and (at table, if desired), remove the large breast fillets from each side of the turkey. Let the Fillets rest a few minutes before carving into thin slices.
  4. Meanwhile, return the rest of the bird to the 325 degrees oven. Cook until the dark meat reaches 175 degrees, about 20 minutes more. Remove, let rest a few minutes, and serve the dark meat.