There are all kinds of ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey, many of them beyond tedious.
The key to a juicy turkey is simple, however. You need to keep the liquid from evaporating. This means cooking the bird in a covered pot.
Basting, which involves pouring liquid over something, in order to watch it fall quickly down the sides, is not particularly useful.
A chef once showed me the trick of cooking a whole bird breast side down, uncovering it and turning it over about 30 minutes from serving to brown the top. Because the fat from the dark meat drains downward through the breast meat, this works nicely, if you don’t mind turning over a large, hot bird. It’s not for the faint of heart.
There is also the question of stuffing. Inserting regular stuffing into a bird’s cavity does two things: It soaks up the wonderful juices a bird produces, and it turns into a gummy, half-edible mess.
My foolproof method, which serves about 10, dispenses with a few things: dark meat (meh), bread stuffing (make it in another pan if you must, I don’t much care for it), and basting.
It’s pretty simple, but it requires a nice five-quart, cast-iron Dutch oven (or an equivalent-sized creuset), and some stout cooking shears.
Purchase a good frozen whole turkey breast (5-7 lbs.), and completely thaw it (this will take at least two days) in the fridge. Now you’re ready.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and then prepare the bird.
Discard the innards, which aren’t needed for this recipe, and proceed to cut the back completely out of the turkey breast. Discard the back. This is simply to make the breast fit comfortably in the Dutch oven, with the lid on.
Chop up three large peeled carrots, three or four stalks of celery, one onion and three or four cloves of garlic and mix all of that with one bunch of roughly chopped parsley.