Position your oven rack so that the top of the bird will be just above the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Trim excess fat. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out, and pat it dry. Stuff the bird three-quarters full. Rub the outside with the olive oil and then massage the bird thoroughly with the salt and pepper mixture. Tie the legs together loosely.
Put the bird in a roasting pan; position the pan so that the legs point to the back of the oven. Follow the chart below and start basting after the first 30 to 45 min.
Opening the oven to check on you roaster may make the kitchen smell great, but it won't cook your bird any faster. Here's a surer way to get a perfect bird. I've given a range of times because ovens vary.
After the first hour, tilt the pan and spoon out fat drippings, which you'll use for basting. After the second hour, spoon out more drippings for basting both the bird and the dressing, if you're baking it separately.
For the last hour of roasting, turn the pan so that the legs face the oven door. Refrain from basting for the last half hour of cooking time. The bird is done when the juices run clear from a thigh pricked all the way down to the joint and when a meat thermometer inserted in the inner thigh below the leg joint reads 175 to 180 degrees F. A thermometer inserted in the stuffing's center should read at least 160 degrees F. Transfer the bird to a platter and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
A GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL TURKEY ROASTING:
Allow 1 1/4 pounds per person.
Unstuffed: 12 minutes per pound
Stuffed: 16 minutes per pound
Initial interval: 450 degrees F for 30 minutes
Second step: lower heat to 375 degrees F and continue to roast
Recipe reprinted by permission of Fine Cooking Magazine. All rights reserved.