Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Cook a Turkey

I tend to make turkey a few times a year, and it seems that around this time every year I'm asked by someone how to cook a turkey. So I thought that this year I would write a post detailing the process so that people could access it before turkey day, or any other day for that matter.

Cooking a turkey without drying out the white meat is a lot simpler than it seems. One must keep in mind that a turkey takes a long while to cook through to the bone. And it is important to remove it from the oven once it reaches 180 degrees. And finally you have to make sure that you roast the bird at a high enough temperature to keep it safe to eat without overcook it.

Allow about 15 minutes of cooking time per pound and about 20 minutes per pound if the bird is cooked with stuffing. So keep this in mind when planning dinner. Determine what time you would like to have dinner and then work backwards to determine the time the turkey needs to go into the oven.

Preheat oven to 325.

Brine your turkey for 24 hours to insure a tender, juicy bird. (Brine recipe to follow in Thanksgiving post)

Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Insert meat thermometer in thigh. Add just enough water to over the bottom of pan, (I tend to use the liquid from the brine.)

Cover turkey loosely with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Roast the turkey until temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180°F.

Cooking time will vary. For example, a 20 pound turkey will take 4 1/4 to 5 hours to cook, check the temperature on the thermometer after 4 hours.

Remove the foil tent after 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking time to brown the skin.

Brush with vegetable oil or maple syrup to enhance browning

A whole turkey is done when the temperature reaches 180°F.

Do make sure that you don't overcook your turkey you must remove it from the oven once it reaches 180 degrees. Let it rest for about 20 minutes while you get the rest of dinner ready to serve. Once 20 minutes have passed you are able to crave the turkey.

Once it reaches this temperature the thigh juices should run clear when pierced with a fork and the leg should move freely.

It's that simple. Just follow the above steps and you too will have a fully cooked, tender juicy turkey!

Happy Cooking!

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