Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey Tips!

I know a lot of people get overwhelmed at the idea of cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving.  But I have to tell you, it's really not that hard! It just takes a little attention to detail for it to turn out juicy and delicious...and beautiful!

Here are my tips for a perfect turkey!

- Slow and Low is the name of the game!  Set your oven at about 350 degrees.  Maybe even 325 if your oven runs hotter than average.  The key is to let the turkey roast very slowly.  If you place it in a super hot oven, sure it will cook faster, but it will also be dry.  It generally takes about 20 minutes per pound for a turkey to cook (longer if it's stuffed with stuffing).  I made an 18 pounder this weekend. I planned on it taking at least 5 1/2 - 6 hours.

"So what time should I put my turkey in?" you may ask.  I say to plan on the turkey being done at least half an hour before you plan on eating. So if you are eating at two and you have a 15 pound turkey, plan on putting the turkey in at about 8:30 am.  It will probably take about 4 1/2-5 hours to cook.  You also need to let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving into it.   This will also give you half an hour to place any other dishes into the oven as needed.

-Don't forget to take out the weird gross stuff they put in the neck and body cavities.  Don't ask me how I know. Just don't forget, ok?


-Turkey Tools.  You need them. I have to say that a nice roasting pan will make all the difference in how your turkey turns out.  I've used the cheap disposable foil ones and it definitely did not turn out as good as my nice one with the lid!  Having a lid is huge too.  It keeps all the steam inside the pan and makes for a really juicy bird and keeps it from getting crispy or burnt on the top and wings.  If you don't have a lid, be prepared with foil which you will want to use to cover the areas that are browning way too fast.  If you do use a lid, take it off in the last hour or so to let the top brown.

You NEED a baster if you are making a turkey. Trust me on this one. Don't try to go scooping up the juices with a spoon. Just don't do it.

Meat thermometer.  Some turkeys will have a pop-up timer in them so you know when it is done.  Even with one of those, I like to have a meat thermometer on hand to be sure it's done.

-Grease it up, baby.  If you want a juicy turkey. Grease that baby up!  I like to slather mine in butter and olive oil and lemon juice.  No, that is NOT over kill. Trust me.

-Stuff the cavity with fruits and veggies.  If you are not stuffing your turkey with , um, stuffing, then fill the empty cavity up with fruits and veggies to add flavor.  I like to use lemons, onions, garlic and oranges.  Apples are also good.  I drizzled mine in olive oil and then doused them in seasonings before placing inside the turkey.



-Season the heck out of it.  After giving the turkey a nice massage with oil and butter, I coat it with seasonings.  I use rock salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary and thyme.  I also love Bell's Seasoning.  It adds a really "thanksgiving" flavor.  Don't forget to do the underside of the turkey as well!  I also like to mix some of the seasoning and oil together in a bowl and use a basting brush to slather some yumminess in between the skin and the meat.  You can also place a whole sprig of fresh herbs under the skin too. Flavor? BOOM.



-Basting is your friend.  I like to baste the turkey every half hour or so.  Just suck up the juices from the bottom of the pan and squeeze it out all over the turkey. Heaven happens.


-Watch the clock. No forgetting about the turkey cause you're too busy making a beautiful centerpiece.  Set a timer to remind you to baste.  I like to check if it's done about three fourths of the way through the "recommended" cooking time.  Be sure to peek often during that time frame to check the pop-up timer or to check the temp with the thermometer.  I don't like relying on the pop up timer too much though because they tend to be unreliable.  To test for doneness, stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the bird, usually in the breast area.  Meat closest to the bones will appear done way quicker than the meat way down in the turkey.  A done turkey should read at 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit.


Remember to let the turkey sit at least 15 minutes before carving into it!  Enjoy!


Check out my Homemade Stuffing and Gravy How To's as well!

1 comment:

  1. For the second year in a row this has been my "go to" recipe and I have had perfect turkeys. Thank you! 

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