If you’re from the United States, you know that Thanksgiving is upon us again. For most of us, Thanksgiving means turkey roasting.
No one enjoys dry turkey. There are many gadgets, recipes, and tips on roasting a turkey; and all promise a perfect, juicy turkey. Who knew that turkey can be baked, fried, stuffed, etc?
My intent is not to tell how you should prepare your holiday bird. My intent is to simply share some tips on roasting a turkey.
Preparing your Turkey
If your bird is frozen, be aware that you will need some time to defrost it BEFORE the big day.
Here are the usual recommendations:
|Your Turkey Size
|In the Refrigerator
24 hours per 4-5 lbs on average
|In Cold Water (my preferred method)
30 minutes per lb. on average
|4 to 12||1 to 3 days||2 to 6 hours|
|12 to 16||3 to 4 days||6 to 8 hours|
|16 to 20||4 to 5 days||8 to 10 hours|
|20 to 24||5 to 6 days||10 to 12 hours|
On Turkey Day
- Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey.
- Rinse and pat your turkey dry.
- Prepare your turkey for roasting: there are mainly two methods, depending on whether your turkey is stuffed or unstuffed. Stuffing cooked inside the bird is the best in my opinion.
If you are roasting a stuffed turkey
- Prepare your favorite stuffing recipe (I make mine with cornbread, rice, and sausage).
- Stuff your turkey just before you are ready to roast it, never before. Your stuffing should not sit in your bird’s cavity for hours.
- The stuffing should be loosely packed inside the body and neck cavities. The stuffing will expand during the roasting process and over-stuffing will result in a mess (I learned this one the hard way).
- There is a basic rule for how much stuffing to prepare that ensures the proper amount. I was told about a 1/2 cup per pound of turkey is a great way to estimate.
- Any leftover stuffing can be baked in a separate dish.
- After stuffing your bird, tuck the thighs back or hold them with some cooking twine.
- Salt and pepper the skin of your turkey. Drizzle some olive oil or place a few pads of butter on the body of your turkey.
If you are roasting an unstuffed turkey
- Salt and pepper the cavities of your turkey.
- If you wish, you can add some pieces of celery and carrots in the body cavities to improve the flavor.
Tips on Roasting a Turkey
- Insert a thermometer in your turkey: if it is stuffed, insert it through the large meaty muscle inside the thigh. If it is unstuffed, insert into the meaty portion of the breast. In either case, do NOT touch the bone.
- Bake your turkey at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Baste the meat on occasion (if you want).
- When the internal temperature reaches 165 to 170 degree F, your turkey is cooked through.
Note: I cook my turkey upside down (as in the breasts in the pan). That is the way my mom cooked chicken. I was told that is how all French people cook chicken. Works great for turkey too. In this case, I check the internal temperature of my turkey on occasion.