Let’s Cook Turkey!!
Ok, the day is almost here. It’s time to talk turkey!!
There are hundreds of recipes on the web for cooking turkey, and many, many more family recipes. Some people like to just rub butter or oil over the skin, sprinkle it with some salt and pepper and pop it in the oven – stuffed or unstuffed. Today it is recommended that you don’t stuff the bird. All that flavor and moisture that used to come from the stuffing now is replaced by birds that have flavored broth and fats injected into the bird. But what about the wonderful flavors that used to come from the stuffing? Today many cooks lift the skin and slather oil and seasonings under the skin. Dried herbs will work, but what about a few sprigs of thyme and some rosemary? That would taste awesome. Some pop a quartered onion or two in the cavity. And other people layer the bottom of the roasting pan with the same mirepoix mix you’d use in making broth: onion, carrots, and celery. Leave the pieces large to be a nice “bed” to lay your turkey on. This serves several purposes: it lifts your turkey out of the juices, there is less chance of the bird sticking to the pan, and finally, the aromas from roasting the vegetables will waft up and infuse into the bird.
Roasting the Turkey
Follow the directions in your recipe for roasting your bird. If you’re winging it, the standard estimate at 325°F for an unstuffed bird is 15 minutes per pound. So a 12-pound bird would be 180 minutes or 3 hours. A stuffed bird is usually 20 minutes per pound. So a 12-pound bird is 240 minutes or 4 hours. The government has a handy chart for estimated cooking times here. Always test that the bird reaches 165°F if the bird does not come with a pop-up doneness indicator.
Let the Turkey Rest
Remember when you take the bird out of the oven to place it on the platter, to tent it with foil and allow it to rest about 20 minutes before carving. This is the perfect amount of time to make your gravy and plate up the rest of your hot sides and get them on the table. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the bird and gives you a moister bird. You may want to allow it to rest breast side down so the juices pool into the breast, not run onto the platter. To keep that bird safe from bacteria and foodborne illnesses, check out this site from foodsafety.gov.