After testing more than 18 turkeys for “The United States of Turkey,” we found that our juiciest turkeys had been allowed to sit for about an hour at room temperature before roasting.
This time out of the refrigerator allows the internal temperature of the meat to reach 165°F sooner as it roasts, before the outside of the turkey becomes dry. The muscle fibers also relax after being cold for so long, which results in meat that’s more tender.
After roasting, the turkey needs to rest before carving so its juice, forced to the center by the heat, is redistributed back into the meat. While it’s resting, though, some juice will inevitably run onto the carving board, which can be messy if you don’t have a board with a deep trench. We solved this problem by putting a paper towel ring around the turkey. To make one, start with a four- or fi ve-sheet length of paper towels and scrunch it into a snake. Wrap it around the base of the turkey and it will soak up that wayward juice and make cleanup a snap.