Thanksgiving is in a few days. Do you know How to Roast a Perfect Turkey? In this article, I go through common misconceptions, safety tips and some personal tricks for getting that delicious bird on your table.
Speaking of Thanksgiving is almost here, if you haven’t started defrosting your turkey, you better get it in the fridge now! It takes about a day per 5 pounds of turkey to defrost in the refrigerator, which is the safest way to defrost your turkey.
Once you have that massive bird defrosted, then what? For starters, the USDA does not recommend rinsing poultry. As a kid, I was taught to rinse the bird inside and out and pat it dry. I’m sure many of you were too. That practice has been found to spread bacteria without any actual gain for you, so just avoid it. However, you should pat the turkey dry with paper towels and dispose of them immediately. You’ll see why in a moment.
If you are stuffing your turkey, fill it with stuffing prior to seasoning the turkey itself. Personally, I’m anti-stuffing. I mean I love stuffing and I always make some for Thanksgiving, but I don’t stuff it inside the turkey. A big pro for stuffing your turkey is that the stuffing will take on that roasted turkey flavor. However, when the turkey is filled with stuffing, it takes a bit longer to reach that critical internal temperature of 165 degrees. This means a dryer bird. Stuffing cooked inside the turkey is also mushy and a bit greasy. Big cons in my book. So, I am in favor of baking the stuffing in a separate dish so you can get a nice even crisp on it.
Regardless of what recipe you are using, you will want to have fat on the turkey skin. Fat yields crispy, brown skin. Look for a recipe that either includes fat in the marinade or has you rub the skin with oil, butter, margarine or the like. Before you shmear that turkey with fat, the skin needs to be dry. The water used to store the turkey in the packaging will prevent the oil from penetrating the skin. Oil and water just don’t mix, and that is why you want to pat the skin dry prior to seasoning.
Ok, you are ready to get your turkey into the pan, but...which side goes up? Let’s look at the pros and cons. First off, I advise against flipping a hot turkey. It’s just not a safe activity unless you are a professional. The reason for roasting the turkey breast down is to keep the white meat juicy. The reason for roasting at least a little bit breast side up is to get crispy skin over the breasts. What to do? It’s really your preference. There are many excellent recipes for “upside down” turkey (cooking breast side down completely). I cook mine breast up the full time. I keep a tight foil covering until the last 20-30 minutes. Then I remove the foil, turn up the heat a bit, and let the turkey finish nice and brown.
Below is super cute graphic of the USDA’s estimated roasting times. These times are based on a baking temperature of 325. And of course, the times are only approximate. PLEASE temp your turkey. Use a meat thermometer (#affiliate), and press it into the meatiest part of the thigh. (shown above)
Now, let’s talk basting. According to Cooks Illustrated, “basting does nothing to moisten dry breast meat...turning the skin chewy and leathery.” I happen to agree with this sentiment. You should open your oven as little as possible while your bird is in. That way your oven can maintain a consistent temperature. I would open the oven only to remove the foil.
Lastly, rest and carve the turkey. All meat needs to rest after cooking. Meat continues to cook after being removed from the heat. Additionally, the juices are all “loose” and will settle back into the meat if you just leave it alone. Resting means completely undisturbed. You can tent some foil over it, but otherwise...no touching. I would give a whole turkey about 20 minutes to rest before carving.
Armed with your chosen recipe and all of these tips, you can make a delicious turkey dinner for all of your loved ones. For quick reference, below is a graphic of do’s and don’ts. If you enjoy our content, please subscribe and follow for all the latest: Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube