How To Roast The Perfect Turkey
The perfect turkey is yours to accomplish - it's really not that difficult. A lot of cooks shy away from roasting turkey because they feel "overwhelmed" by the process. Let me assure you - it's not difficult, and if you learn from the following tips, you'll have a turkey that everyone raves about.
- First, decide on a fresh or frozen turkey. I recommend frozen, only because it's easier to cook and you're more-assured the freshest turkey you can buy. Almost all frozen turkeys are flash-frozen within one hour of processing - as opposed to "fresh" turkeys, which could be sitting around for a lot longer before you buy them. Don't hear me wrong: If you like "fresh" turkeys - go for it. Just be sure you know (A) where the turkey came from and (B) how long it's been since it was processed.
- Then, if you're working with a frozen turkey - you need to allow the bird enough time to thaw. Proper thawing technique is to take it out of the freezer for a few days before you're going to cook it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Don't be alarmed if you find that the very inside of your turkey is still partially frozen or cold; As long as the outside flesh is thawed, you'll be okay.
- Remove the giblets, neck, and gizzard. You should also be on the lookout for that plastic thing they use to keep the legs together. Some brands of turkey also come with a "gravy bag". Be aware that this "gravy bag: is mainly flour and seasonings (AKA - salt). You can make better pan gravy with the drippings that using this bag, so I would recommend throwing it out.
- Stuff your turkey - loosely. I know - I know, the "food police" will tell you not to stuff a turkey because it's not safe. Trust me - stuff it and trust the thermometer (which we'll get to in a step or two).
- Rub the outside of your turkey with butter or oil and salt and pepper it.
- Fold the wings underneath the turkey.
- Loosely "tent" your roaster with foil - being careful not to "crimp" the foil down, sealing the roaster. Along the same lines, if your roasting pan came with a cover, THROW IT AWAY!! More turkeys have been ruined by someone using a cover; The cover creates a vacuum that pulls all of the juices out of the bird, leaving you with a dry end result. Trust me. Tent it loosely with foil and you'll always end up with a moist turkey.
- Roast your turkey "low and slow" at 325. For how long, you ask? That leads us to....
- Use a probe thermometer to determine when your turkey is done. You can find probe thermometers at most food stores or hardware stores for around $15-20. ...Best investment you'll ever make. Professional cooks determine when meat is done by temperature -- and so should you! 160 to 165 is your target temp. I remove the turkey from the oven somewhere in between. Still wondering if it's done? Twist the leg. The leg should twist when the turkey is done.
- About an hour or so before the turkey is done, remove the foil to let the skin brown.
- When your turkey arrives at it's target temp, remove it from the oven. Tent it again with foil, and let it rest. If you carve the turkey right away, it will loose all of it's juices - leaving you with a dry end result. Let it rest for about 15-20 minutes before you carve it.