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story.lead_photo.caption A ready-to-roast turkey dressed for the table. Ready-to-roast turkeys go from freezer to oven to table in just 3 to 4 hours. Photo by John Sykes Jr.

It was not the prettiest turkey I've ever made, and it was not the tastiest, but it was by far the easiest.

After my mother's success last Thanksgiving with Butterball's Ready-to-Roast Whole Turkey, I decided to give it a try.

Ready-to-roast turkeys can go from freezer to oven, making them much more convenient than a regular frozen bird that requires thawing for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

The Butterball ready-to-roast turkey is seasoned with "up to 8% of a solution of water, contains 2% or less of salt, natural flavors, modified food starch, and sodium phosphate to enhance tenderness and juiciness."

While Butterball is the brand my mother and I used, Butterball isn't the only company that makes a ready-to-roast whole turkey. Archer Farms (Target's house brand) has a similar product seasoned with "a celery seed, ginger, sage and thyme medley."

Jenny-O also makes one; it is seasoned with a solution of "maltodextrin, dehydrated turkey broth, onion powder, salt, yeast extract, carrot powder, dextrose, natural flavors, garlic powder, annatto (color), sodium phosphate, salt, sugar" and "rubbed with: salt, maltodextrin, sugar, dextrose, onion powder, spices, carrot powder, garlic powder, paprika (color), extractive of turmeric (color)."

As far as I can tell, they're all available in the same size — about 12 pounds. The one I bought cost about $20.

The process could not be simpler — cut open the outer bag and remove the frozen turkey keeping it in the inner cooking bag, place the frozen bird on a rack in a roasting pan, cut a couple of slits in the top of the bag, and roast it at 375 degrees for 3- to 4 ½ hours — until the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thigh reaches 180 degrees. No thawing, no brining, no flipping, no basting. Although I did rotate the pan a few times to help ensure even browning as food closest to the door in my oven tends to brown faster.

The skin, though crispy and beautifully golden brown, tore a bit as I removed the cooking bag and one of the drumsticks split open, giving my turkey a not-so-picture-perfect appearance. Taste-wise, the meat was tender and flavorful, but a bit dry in places.

The turkey came with a package of gravy concentrate that I had to mix with some of the pan drippings and boil for a few minutes. Like the turkey, it was easy to prepare. I liked the flavor of the gravy but thought it would be better if it were thicker.

If you've never cooked a turkey before or if easy is your priority a ready-to-roast turkey is a great option. It's also good if space is tight and you don't want to dedicate refrigerator real estate to a thawing bird for several days and fresh (unfrozen) turkey isn't available.

But I still say for the most flavorful, juiciest, quickest cooking turkey, spatchcocking is the way to go. Click here to read all about spatchcocking.

Food on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: Ready-to-roast turkey is easier, faster

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