Skills: Cooking Turkey 1
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Turkey tips for the holidays:


Choosing a turkey:

  • Under 18 pounds is usually a hen and those weighing more are almost always toms

  • Select your turkey according to the quantity needed- 1#/person plus more for leftovers (which I will cover uses for leftover turkey during the Nov. 28 show)

  • Fresh, natural or minimally processed are usually more expensive but taste remarkably better than frozen

  • Self-basting are injected with oils plus seasoning and flavor enhancers to increase moistness and improve flavor (according to the manufacturer)

  • Frozen require one day per 5 pounds to thaw in the refrigerator, thawing in a cold water bath takes 30 minutes per pound


Cooking a turkey:

  • Breast meat and stuffing should register 165 degrees and the thickest part of the thigh should register 175-180 degrees on a meat thermometer

  •  *Cover with foil and let rest 20-30 minutes out of the oven before carving to allow the juices to settle back into the meat. This is one of the most critical steps in roasting any kind of meat because the turkey or roast will continue to cook for another 10-20 minutes outside the oven AND this process will produce a moister meat

  • Filling the empty cavity with cut up fruits like apples, oranges or lemons and fresh herbs and seasoning adds to the flavor of the meat

  • Fold the wing tips under the bird to keep them from getting over cooked

  • Brining- don’t brine self-basing turkeys. Brining is great for fresh, natural and minimally processed turkeys. Brining creates a very moist turkey. Brine a 14-16 pound turkey for 6 hours.  The turkey can be brined the day before you plan to cook it. Make sure your brine is cold before putting the turkey in the liquid. Brine only in plastic or stainless steel.  Rinse the turkey thoroughly before cooking.

  • Butter/seasonings under the skin- . With your hands, carefully separate breast skin from the meat and spread seasoned butter, herbs, and spices in between. Season outside with salt and pepper before cooking.  DON’T deep fry.

  • Roasting- low heat (325° F) 10-12 minutes per pound, recommended that you roast upside down and covered with foil until there is about ˝ hour left in your cooking time.  Remove foil and flip the turkey breast side up to brown. This unusual step boasts of a moister turkey breast

  • Roasting- high heat (400° F) 10 minutes per pound.  This process creates a very crispy skin and doesn’t dry out the meat as much as a low heat roasted turkey.

  • Roasting/stuffed- low heat (325° F) 12-15 minutes per pound.  Loosely pack the stuffing into the turkey’s cavity. The stuffing should register 160-165° F to be safe to eat.  If the stuffing isn’t hot enough and the turkey is done, remove the stuffing and put in a greased casserole and continue to bake while the turkey is resting.

  • Roasting in an oven bag- medium heat (350° F), 15-16 minutes per pound, make sure to spray the inside of the bag with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to the bird. Place the stuffed or unstuffed bird on top of cut up vegetables inside the bag for added flavor to your gravy.  Make sure to cut a few slits in the bag to allow steam to escape.

  • Deep fat frying- use a fresh turkey that has been brined and no more than 14 pounds.  Use only peanut oil. To determine the correct amount of oil place the turkey in the pot. Add water until it reaches 1 to 2 inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level, using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Pour out the water and dry the pot thoroughly. Dry the turkey thoroughly before putting in the hot oil. Do not stuff turkeys for deep frying.

*A critical key to keeping the white meat moist and allowing the dark meat to finish cooking



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