Turkey becomes the main dish of the all homes on Thanksgiving. So how are we going to cook it to perfection?
Take note of the following:
1. Get the right size bird.
Consumption per person is approximately around 1 to 1-1/4 pounds of turkey. But if you are having a big feast, it’s better to roast two smaller turkey than a big one because the chances of overcooking is lesser.
2. Have your turkey totally thawed and cleaned.
It is best to thaw your turkey, in its original wrapping, inside the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and contamination.
Time Required to Thaw a Turkey
8 to 12 lbs. – 2 to 3 Days
13 to 16 lbs.- 3 to 4 Days
17 to 20 lbs.- 4 to 5 Days
21 to 24 lbs.- 5 to 6 Days
The turkey is soaked in a cooked, then cooled, flavored salt water. When done right, brining adds moisture to the turkey, making the breast meat able to stand being overcooked a bit in order to ensure the dark meat is cooked through. Brined turkeys also cook faster.
4. Remove the neck and the giblets
Remove the giblets and neck then rinse the turkey with cold water and pat dry. Transfer it your prepared roasting pan. Brush the outer skin with peanut oil. Place cut oranges and a few sprigs of rosemary in the cavity. Roast according to the directions below.
5. Don’t stuff the turkey!
Stuffing must be cooked to its own proper temperature. In order to make sure the stuffing is cooked thoroughly, you will have to extend the cooking time for the turkey. And that means dried out, overcooked turkey. It’s better and safer to cook the stuffing outside of the turkey.
6. Use a thermometer and cook it to the proper temperature.
The basic reason most turkeys are dried out is because they are overcooked. In the past, the USDA recommended cooking a turkey to 180 degrees, a sure-fire way to guarantee all bacteria was killed. Problem was, so was all the flavor and moisture. Now the USDA says it is safe to cook a turkey to 165 degrees F, as measured by a digital thermometer.
Chefs have known this all along. In fact, most chefs pull their turkeys out of the oven at 155 to 160 degrees and let them rest 30 minutes or so until the residual heat cooks the turkey all the way through. But chefs are also very careful in keeping the turkey at the proper temperature (35 to 38 degrees F) before it even reaches the oven. After all, that’s when the bacteria grows.
7. Don’t use the pop-up timer.
They are normally set to pop at 180 degrees F — way too high, which means you’ll have a very overcooked bird. Remember, meat continues to cook after it comes out of the oven. A turkey cooked to 180 degrees will end up at 190 or 195 degrees and will almost certainly be dried out.
8. Skip the basting.
It doesn’t do anything to add moisture to the turkey, and it forces you to cook the turkey longer, because you’re opening the oven door frequently. Remember, the longer you cook it, the more chances you have your turkey will be dried out.
9. Cover the breast with foil one hour into cooking.
Since the legs and thighs have to cook to a higher temperature (170-175 degrees F) than the breast meat (160-165 degrees F), the white meat will almost certainly get done before the dark meat. To help keep the breast meat from drying out, cover the breast with foil about an hour into cooking.
10. Let it rest.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest 30 minutes before carving. for it allows the residual heat to keep cooking the turkey and it allows the turkey juices to redistribute, keeping the turkey moist.