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Mastering Turkey: Tips for Juicy Roasting and Perfect Serving

In summary, when preparing for a Thanksgiving meal, it is recommended to calculate 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person, purchase a fresh turkey if possible, and thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for 2 days or in cold water for 30 minutes per pound. It is also important to use a high-sided roasting pan with handles and to cover the breast with foil for the first 45 minutes of cooking to prevent it from drying out. Basting is not recommended as it can cause the oven's temperature to fluctuate and affect the turkey's moisture. It is also important to use a good oven thermometer to ensure the turkey is cooked to the recommended temperatures of 170-175°F for the breast and 180

DebPC

Staff member
3,020
TURKEY TIPS and MORE!
First of all....
HOW MUCH turkey do you need?
The best calculation is 1 to 1½ pounds per person. This will give your guests a few trips back for more with ample left-overs. (Stay tuned for LEFT OVER MADNESS in the next email!)

Do I buy my turkey FRESH or FROZEN?
That is really up to you, but FRESH is BEST. When purchasing a FROZEN bird, be sure to allow ample time for thawing.

Thawing your bird:
Thaw in refrigerator 2 days! Do not wait till the last minute and DO NOT thaw on counter! This can be EXTREMELY dangerous where bacteria are concerned!
However, if life throws you a curve and you cannot get the turkey many days ahead, there is another alternative...
Fill your sink with COLD water and place turkey in sink. Thaw at 30 minutes per pound, changing water frequently so that it remains COLD. This is an acceptable thawing method approved by the FDA.

What do I roast the turkey in?
Use a HIGH-SIDED roasting pan with handles. The sides prevent the juices from making a mess in your oven and the handles enable you to carry and move the bird around. A roasting pan with a V-shaped rack inside would be best, so the air circulates around the turkey for even roasting.

My turkey comes out of the oven juicy, but when I carve and serve, it's DRY...There are several things you can do to prevent DRY Bird Syndrome!

1. Cover the Breast portion with a strip of foil and let it remain there until it is 45 minutes from being done. The breast is on top and gets VERY brown...this is what dries out. Covering it with foil will protect it. The last 45 minutes will be enough time to brown the skin without drying out.
2. DO NOT BASTE! I know how much youy want to keep subjecting your head to 350° bursts, but for MAXIMUM moistness, cook your poultry at a constant temperature. Opening the oven causes the oven's temp to fluctuate. Oil or butter the skin and then roast! This helps turkey self-baste.
3. Use a GOOD Oven thermometer! This is the ONLY true way to determine doneness. (Pampered Chef has 2 thermometers, an instant-read themometer and a Digital thermometer.)
recommended temps:
Breast - 170°-175°F
Thigh - 180°-185°F
If stuffing bird, the stuffing should be 180°F. If when the turkey is done and your stuffing is not, simply remove the stuffing from the turkey and return it to the oven to finish baking.

To Truss or not to Truss
Trussing is: to arrange for cooking by binding close the wings or legs of (a fowl)
THIS is not recommended!
The leg ans thigh need hot air circulating around them in order to cook at the same rate as the breast.

Roasting time and temp....
Ideal roasting time should be
30 minutes per pound @ 325°F
20 minutes per pound @ 350°F

A time to cook and a time to rest.....
After a hot, sweaty day of working the yard, nothing sounds better than an ice cold drink and a chair! Coming in to do more work would make it TOUGH on me! The same goes for the turkey you remove from the oven. When planning for your meal's serving time, be sure to allow enough time for the turkey to REST. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to rest 20 minutes to and hour. (I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes.) This allows all of those juices that were bubbling at the top to recirculate and redeistribute to the rest of the bird....another KEY to preventing DRY BIRD SYNDROME!
 
Cutting the BirdTurkey is best carved when it has had a chance to sit and rest. Have a large carving board and a sharp knife handy before you begin. 1. Begin by removing the legs and wings. Slice between joint and body. 2. Separate the thigh from the drumstick by slicing through the joint. 3. Slice the breast by slicing away from the rib cage toward the thighs. 4. Separate the drumsticks and wings. 5. Slice the thighs and drumsticks crosswise. Now...you're ready to eat and enjoy your meal! Bon Appetite!
 



Great tips! I always struggle with figuring out how much turkey to buy and how to thaw it properly. Your suggestion of 1 to 1½ pounds per person is very helpful. I also appreciate the reminder to not wait until the last minute to thaw the turkey and to not thaw it on the counter. Safety first! I'll definitely be using the cold water thawing method if I ever find myself in a time crunch. And I never would have thought to cover the breast with foil to prevent it from drying out. I'll have to try that next time. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
 

1. How do I ensure my turkey is cooked thoroughly?

The best way to ensure your turkey is cooked thoroughly is to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey (usually the thigh) and make sure it reads at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also check for clear juices and the turkey's internal temperature reaching 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast.

2. Can I brine my turkey and if so, how long should I brine it for?

Yes, you can brine your turkey to add flavor and keep it moist. You should brine your turkey for about 1 hour per pound of meat. For example, a 15-pound turkey should be brined for 15 hours.

3. How do I get a crispy skin on my turkey?

To get a crispy skin on your turkey, make sure to pat the turkey dry before cooking and brush it with oil or melted butter. You can also start the cooking process with high heat (around 425 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for the remaining cooking time.

4. Do I need to baste my turkey while it's cooking?

Basting your turkey is not necessary, but it can add more flavor and moisture to the meat. If you do choose to baste your turkey, make sure to do it quickly and close the oven door to prevent heat loss.

5. How do I carve a turkey?

The best way to carve a turkey is to let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Start by removing the legs and thighs, then slice the breast meat against the grain. Serve the slices on a platter and enjoy!

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