It’s surprising how many people have turkey-phobia, dreading cooking the holiday bird. In fact turkey is easy to roast, and hard to ruin. Add these tips to your turkey routine to ensure that it will turn out moist and delicious. NOTE: Always start with a thawed turkey, and let it sit out about 45 minutes before cooking.
1. Buy a Larger Turkey
Larger turkeys stay moister. Besides, leftovers for sandwiches, soups and casseroles are part of the holiday tradition! Figure 1.25 pounds minimum per person, but don’t buy less than a 12-pounder, for best results.
2. Butter Up!
Lift the breast skin from the meat and insert thick pats of semi-soft butter rolled in dry sage. Heat a stick of butter, sage and white wine in the microwave and pour the liquid over the bird. Finally, add some chicken broth to cover the bottom of your pan.
3. High Heat for Starters
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, to begin roasting the turkey. Leave it uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, watching that the skin is not burning. If the top skin is browning too fast, add a foil tent.
4. Cover it up!
After the initial hour of high heat, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cover the bird with a double layer of cheesecloth (sold in the grocery store). Baste the cheesecloth in the pan juices until soaked. Add more wine or chicken broth if needed to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the bird loosely with a foil tent.
5. Baste on Schedule
Baste the turkey with the pan juices, always soaking the cheesecloth. Do this every thirty minutes. Add more broth or wine as needed. Basting adds a little cooking time, but it’s worth every minute.
6. Know When it is Done
The general rule for turkey cooking time is 20 minutes per pound, at 325 degrees. You must also use a meat thermometer, as ovens vary, and basting causes heat fluctuations. The thickest part of the thigh reads 185 degrees when done. Stuffing needs to be 165 degrees. Careful! Don’t go past these readings, as the turkey will continue to heat up after removing from the oven.
7. Give that Bird a Rest
Finally, don’t skip a 20-30 minute rest period after removing the turkey from the oven. Cover with foil to let the juices settle into the meat. You can take the pan juices and make your gravy in the meantime.
Forget turkey-phobia. These tried-and-true tips will help you serve a moist, delicious turkey on Thanksgiving Day!