Turkey (and chicken) can be thoroughly cooked without sacrificing moistness in the end result. Many people cook their birds to at least 165F as recommended by the USDA. Why this temperature though? At 165F, salmonella is killed within 10 seconds. However, salmonella starts to die long before this, just at a slower rate. If you cook to 150F, it takes under 5 minutes to kill the salmonella. At 155F, it’s less than 90 seconds. Allowing the turkey to rest, covered, when it reaches these temperatures will maintain them for 10 minutes or longer. If you’re still uncomfortable at 150F, keep the thermometer in or just turn the oven off and leave the turkey in for 5 more minutes.
Roasting at 325F will give a longer window of time when the turkey is cooked perfectly and will also help prevent dryness. However, at this low temperature, the skin will not brown well. By starting out at 425F, we are able to get a nice color on the meat and then reduce the temperature to have it cook more evenly.
Curious about beef temperatures? The linked resource gives temperature and times for that as well. There is a lot of explanation on the background and facts of the study, but if you scroll to the tables, they give you temperatures and times. The poultry numbers vary based on the fat % in the meat (longer times for higher fat content), but the variation is not that large. If you allow the cooked meat to rest, it will maintain the temperature for even the highest fat content if you cook to at least 150F.
1 bone-in turkey breast (7-8 lbs)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 sprigs rosemary
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Preheat oven to 425F.
Rinse the turkey breast with cold water and pat dry. Place on a large greased baking sheet. Loosen the skin on the breast and rub approximately 1 Tbsp of butter underneath the skin. Rub 2 Tbsp of butter over the full outside of the breast and underside. Place the remaining butter inside the cavity along with the rosemary and garlic cloves.
Season the outside of turkey well with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, baste with the drippings and reduce the heat to 325F. Continue to roast until the temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 150-155, approximately 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, baste one last time, and tent with foil. Allow to rest 20-30 minutes before carving so the turkey can continue to cook and juices can set.
For cooking times and temperatures, reference the Time-Temperature Tables for Cooking Ready-to-Eat Poultry.