Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooking a turkey

I'm surprised how many people are afraid of cooking a turkey. I've done it for about 10 years now, and it's surprisingly easy and a very economical way to add protein to a menu. I will often cook two turkeys in November while the meat is sold at a discount price and freeze one in small vacuumed sealed packages to use through the winter.

This is going to sound like a made-up story, but I swear it's true. My sister had a friend, who had a brother that worked in a restaurant. His job was to make the turkeys during the holidays. He put together instructions, and gave them to my sister, who in turn gave them to me.

Now, there are probably as many ways to cook a turkey as there are turkeys on the planet, but this method has never failed me. In fact, I now use it for roasting chickens as well.

Kristie's Tasty Turkey
For an 18 lbs. Turkey

  • You will want to use a roasting pan with a rack to raise the turkey and the roasting pan should not be too big. The Turkey should only be 1-2 inches from the sides of the pan. Thaw turkey completely – 3 to 4 days in the fridge
  • Soak turkey(in the packaging) in cold water with 2 cups of salt in the kitchen sink for at least 4 hours or up to overnight -- this is called brining
  • Once completely thawed & brined, rinse turkey, remove everything from inside and pat dry
  • Separate skin from breast and rub a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic pepper and poultry seasoning inside between the skin and the breast meat
  • Rub and dump 3-4 handfuls of salt in the internal cavity
  • Tie back the wings under the breasts
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cook turkey upside down, uncovered @ 400 degrees for 1/3 of projected cook time (18 lbs. = 50 minutes, or so)
  • Turn Turkey breast side up, drizzle skin with butter and shake salt and pepper on the outside
  • Add 1-2 cups of water to bottom of pan to add to the juices and make basting easier
    Drop temperature to 325 degrees and cover with a tight foil tent
  • Baste every 30 minutes
  • Begin checking the temperature for doneness after a total of 2 hrs of cooking. Reduce temperature if cooking too rapidly.
  • When temperature reaches 165 – 185 degrees with a digital instant read thermometer in both the legs and breasts, remove from oven and baste again, immediately wrap completely in a tight foil blanket and then wrap that in a towel.
  • Allow to rest for up to an hour before carving.

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