Friday, November 15, 2013

How To Roast A Turkey

I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey a couple of years ago.  It seems like such a daunting task, but it wasn't really as difficult as I expected.  The day before I was to cook it, I read a lot of different turkey recipes and jotted down some ideas.

I only use this as a rough guide.  I kind of wing it now.  Here are the ingredients that I use:

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 small onion
2 c. melted butter
cheese cloth

*This year I am going to brine my turkey in some salt water for a few hours before I cook it.  I haven't tried it yet, but I brined a chicken recently and it made a world of difference.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry.  Let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Cut some cheese cloth so it is large enough to cover the turkey.  Melt the butter and soak the cheese cloth in the butter.

Combine the seasonings in a bowl and rub over the turkey.  Last year I covered the turkey in butter first, but it made the gravy too oily.

Peel the onion and stick it in the cavity.

Use butcher twine to tie the legs together.

Place the turkey in the roasting pan.

Cover the turkey with the cheese cloth.  

We have a digital meat thermometer that stays in the meat during cooking (the thermometer goes in the meat and a cord is attached to the part that tells the temperature).  I love it and go ahead and put the thermometer in the turkey thigh before putting it in the oven so I can track its progress.

Put in the oven at 425 degrees.  After 30 minutes, brush the remaining butter over the top of the cheese cloth and any exposed parts of the turkey and reduce the cooking temperature to 350 degrees.  A higher temperature at the beginning ensures a beautiful golden brown outside, and reducing the temperature helps it to be so juicy.

Every 30 minutes, baste the turkey with the pan juices.

Remove the cheese cloth after two hours of cooking.

It can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to cook a turkey.  I think I remember my turkeys taking about 4 to 4 1/2 hours, but I rely on the meat thermometer. Here is a handy reference guide for how long to cook a turkey.  A turkey is done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees or the juices run clear.

The turkey will continue to cook after removing it from the oven, so I take it out when the thermometer reads just below 165.  Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes after removing it from the oven to finish cooking and allow the juices to redistribute (although I can never resist sampling).

Enjoy a glass of wine and allow someone else to carve your masterpiece.

Wow, now I am really hungry and ready for turkey!!!

Find my entire Thanksgiving menu here.

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