Get a good sturdy roasting pan. My has a rack and it reduces the cooking time because it allows heat to move around the bird. Decide if you are going to stuff it or not and if so, what will you stuff it with.
Make sure you buy either a fresh bird (it's never been frozen) or allow for ample thawing time. These things are frozen solid and require 3 days in a refrigerator to thaw. If you try to cook a frozen turkey I can guarantee it will be raw in the middle and the parts that are cooked will be dry. Remember when you remove the packaging to rinse the turkey inside and out and to remove all the things inside. There is normally a neck stuffed in the main cavity and there is a cavity in between the wings and it contains the plastic bag with the giblets.
Determine, who is going to carve it, on what and with what, make certain the knife is sharp.
Work out a time table. First, determine what time you want to eat. Back out 20-30 minutes for carving and another 30 minutes allowing for the bird to rest. In essence, it needs to come out about 50 minutes - 1 hour before you want to eat.
Stuffed and roasted on a rack, a turkey cooks for 18 minutes a pound. Stuffed without a rack, 20 minutes a pound. I tend to round down the pounds before calculating because over cooked turkey is dry and as a leftover it's not that great. A perfectly cooked turkey on the other hand is delicious during the feast and for all the leftovers.
Once you are ready to cook the bird, Preheat oven to 325. While the oven is heating, butter the outside of the bird without double dipping anything that touches the bird to retouch the butter. Don't be too particular about spreading the butter, in the end it melts and it's used for basting. Salt and Pepper the outside on of the bird. I found Dried Sage this year and sprinkled a light amount on the outside.
With 2 hours left to cook, add 2 Medium Onions cut into Quarters to the roasting pan. You can separate each quarter into 2 pieces, but don't separate all the layers or they will burn. With 30 minutes to go Add the Giblets to the roasting pan for the giblet lovers. Giblets don't agree with me, so I remove them from the pan before making gravy.
I will continue to add notes on cooking times. It is very important to record what you did and how it turned out so adjustments can be made for next time.
For today my plan is to roast a 14.85 pound turkey, stuffed and on a rack for 4 hour, 12 minutes. Perfecto!! That cooking time was just perfect.
Serve with all of your family favorites!