You’ll never go back to cooking a whole bird after making this recipe. I’ve broken the turkey into its primal cuts, which allows the meat to cook more evenly—in half the time! The meat turns out perfectly cooked, classically flavored, golden brown, and delicious every time—with far less babysitting than a whole turkey. This method frees up the oven sooner, plus the carcass can be simmering into stock for the gravy ahead of time. I’ve used my spice cupboard staples for the seasonings so the drippings make tasty gravy, and all you’ll need is a standard half-sheet pan and a metal rack that fits inside it.
Classic Turkey in Pieces
- 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 (12-to-14 pound) turkey, cut into 5 pieces (see Tara’s Tip above)
- 6 sprigs herbs (thyme, sage, parsley)
- 2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons canola or avocado oil
- Heat oven to 425°F. Spread celery and onion on a rimmed half-sheet pan and set a metal cooling rack over the top. Arrange turkey pieces on the rack with the herbs. Pat turkey dry with a paper towel.
- Whisk together stock, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Set aside.
- Mix together remaining tablespoon brown sugar, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander, paprika, salt, and oil. Rub mixture all over turkey, on the skin side and the underside. (You may not use it all.)
- Place pan in oven and pour 1 cup stock mixture into the baking sheet.
- Roast turkey, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until skin is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven to 325°F. Baste turkey with broth mixture and continue to roast for 50 to 70 minutes more. Baste with broth mixture every 15 to 20 minutes. Add more broth ½ cup at a time to the baking sheet as needed to maintain some liquid at all times. Turkey will cook a total of 1 to 1-1/2 hours, and skin should be a rich golden brown. (Cover with foil if skin starts to get too dark.) Check the temperature of each piece after 1 hour. The internal temperature of each piece should be 160°F to 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Wings and legs will be done first, after 60 to 80 minutes, and can be removed when done. The breast may take the entire 90 minutes.
- Transfer turkey pieces to a cutting board and tent with foil for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. (Internal temperature will increase to the required 165°F.)
- Remove rack from baking sheet and scrape the drippings into a gravy separator to capture the liquid. Discard the solids. Reserve strained liquid for gravy.
- Carve turkey as desired and arrange on a serving platter.