10 tips to a “perfect” turkey
(ok, just to clarify, I cannot guarantee “perfect” results… everyone has different ovens, turkeys, and supplies. But, hopefully with these tips you will end up with a delicious turkey!)
1) If you plan on carving the turkey before placing it on the serving table, consider breaking down your turkey before roasting. Not only will it save you cooking time, but will be easier to serve. This is called Spatchcocking, a preferred method if you don’t care about the presentation or have limited time to cook.
2) Let your turkey come to room temperature before roasting. This will help the turkey cook more evenly.
3) You don’t need to change the oven temperature 10 times. Set the oven at 350 and don’t touch it.
4) Don’t baste. It’s a waste… of time. The skin will become nice and crispy all on its own. Your turkey will be nice and moist if you do not overcook it.
5) Keep the stuffing separate. Stuffing the bird, adds to the cooking time. Why add cooking time, which will dry out your turkey? Also, you must be careful of the stuffing absorbing raw turkey juices. Do yourself a favor and bake it separately.
6) If your turkey comes with a pop up timer, get rid of it. They are never accurate. Instead, check your thermometer and make sure it registers 212 degrees when placed in boiling water. Consider investing in a nice digital meat thermometer.
7) Be sure to use a large enough roasting pan with a rack, this will allow proper air flow and circulation around the bird. This will ensure the bird cooks evenly.
8) During the last 30 minutes of cooking, watch the internal temperature carefully. It will go up quickly at the end.
9) Check for doneness in the thickest part of the bird, in the breast it should be at 161. (Cooking time will carry over) If you aren’t sure where the thickest part is, test a few different areas. You do not want to get your guests sick from eating undercooked turkey :/
10) Allow the bird to rest for at least 15 minutes on a carving board before slicing.
Simple Roasted Turkey
- 1 12-15lb turkey, brought to room temperature (about 2 hrs)
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- kitchen twine
aromatics of choice – just beware that stuffing the bird with anything will increase cooking time… so in this case less is more. Salt and pepper alone work just fine!
(these are my favorites to use):
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, halved
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse well with water. Pat dry.
- Season inside the cavity with plenty of salt and pepper. Fill with lemon, onion, garlic, and thyme.
- Generously rub butter all over the turkey.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Tuck wing tips underneath the body of the turkey.
- Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
- This is optional, but if there is alot of excess hanging skin, you can tuck it in and secure it with toothpicks. This is mainly for appearance purposes.
- Roast for 2 1/2-3 hrs (for a 12-15lb turkey), until thermometer registers at 161 in the thickest part of the breast.
- Rest turkey for at least 20 minutes on cutting board.
- Carve and serve.
Make sure you place your turkey in the fridge soon to thaw if you purchase a frozen bird! Also please check the ingredients, as there are hidden sources of gluten in broths/brines and flavorings. Your best bet is to get a local, fresh or kosher turkey.
Happy Turkey Roasting!