Leslie’s Top 15 Turkey Cooking Tips!
Ok, let’s got to Turkey cooking school! Here are my top 15 turkey cooking tips!
- You’ll need these things! A large roasting pan with a cooking rack, baster/ladle, and meat thermometer! Oh and a Turkey!
- What Size? The very best turkey size for cooking is between 11-15 pounds. The rule is 2 pounds for every person, that will give you leftovers. If you are feeding more than a 15-pound turkey will serve to buy two instead of trying to find a giant bird!
- What Kind? Fresh Turkeys are best, but you will have to order them early. I like Mary’s Free Range Turkey’s that I get from Natural Grocers. If you missed that opportunity go for the organic turkey’s that are not fed GMO’s and are antibiotic free! Remember “natural” means nothing and no hormones is a marketing ploy since adding hormones to poultry has been illegal since 1953!
- How to Thaw? If your turkey is frozen, do not thaw it in the sink or hot water! You could get food poisoning that way! Instead, thaw in refrigerator up to 3 days before you are ready to cook it.
- When to Sart Cooking? Prep your turkey one hour before you are ready to cook it. Remove neck, that is inside the turkey and the giblets which are usually tucked under where the head would be. Do not rinse your turkey, but do pat it dry if it feels wet. Drier skin will make it crisp up more. Taking the chill off the turkey will help the meat cook more evenly and faster. Leave the turkey out no more than an hour, and turkey should remain cool to the touch.
- What Temperature? Preheat the oven to 450°. Position the oven rack with plenty of room for the turkey and maybe leaving some room to cook another dish at the same time.
- How Do I Prep It? I always rub my turkey with some salt and pepper. I leave mine un-trussed, that is the taking the leg holder things off and not tieing them with cooking twine. I also do not stuff my turkey…in the South where I am from, we eat dressing not stuffing! Doing all this will help the turkey cook more evenly, and it’s way easier! You can add rosemary, lemon wedges, thyme and garlic to the raosting liquid for more flavor.
- How Do I Prep the Roasting Pan? I fill my roasting pan with about 1.5 cups of broth or stock. You can also use water. This will help with keeping the turkey moist but also will make some liquids for gravy. Don’t ask me how to make gravy, no one in my family eats it.
- Cooking? When you are ready to place the turkey in the oven turn down the heat to 350°. I roast mine breast side up unless it is early in the morning and I’m not entirely awake then you might get an upside down turkey from me. Yes, it happens, don’t judge!
- How Long? You will cook your turkey 13 minutes for every pound of turkey (unstuffed), so an 11-pound turkey will cook for about 2 hours and 40 minutes. You can just do the math for your bird size.
- Basting? I love to baste every 45 minutes. Set 2 timers one for overall cooking time and one for the 45-minute basting. For guest that are begging to help this is a perfect job for them. Pull the turkey out of the over for this! Do not try to do it in a HOT oven please! Take the turkey out, close the oven door and tilt the pan a little. Use a baster bulb, brush or ladle to cover the turkey in the broth and juices in the bottom of the pan. This will give you that photo finish you are looking for! Tag me @go2kitchens if you post it!
- Checking the Temp? Begin checking the temperature about halfway through cooking. This will give you an idea how fast the turkey is cooking because you don’t want to overcook! I take the temp in three places. In the breast meat, the thigh meat and the leg meat. The turkey is done as soon as each one reads 165°. If the skin of the turkey starts to get too brown, you can tent the turkey with foil. Just lay it over the top, do seal up the turkey with the foil. If you go over your cooking time and the thermometer is not reading 165° add 20 minutes to the timer and check again.
- When To Carve? Let the turkey rest out of the oven before you carve it. You can tent it with foil if you don’t want the skin to get cold. I let mine rest for 20 minutes before carving it. This lets the moisture reabsorbed and the meat to firm up. It is much easier to carve!
- How to Carve? To carve, remove the wings first, then the thighs, then breast meat. You can separate the drumsticks from the thigh and slice the breast meat for serving.
- Leftovers? When all is said and done, don’t forget the leftovers. Do not leave out unrefrigerated for more than 1.5 hours. Be safe!
Most of all remember this is just a meal and families and friends don’t care if it is perfect. If your turkey is perfect awesome you get bragging rights…if it is it not you get a good story! Relax and enjoy your holidays and remember the best gift is to always be present with your family and friends!
XOXO Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!