12 Tips to a great cooked Turkey

 

  1. Let your turkey come to room temperature before roasting it.  It should sit out for one hour before cooking
  2. If you want crisp skin, make sure you dry the turkey really well inside the cavity and on the outside.  Drying inside the cavity is important, too, and most people forget about it
  3. Remember to salt inside the cavity.  If you don’t brine your turkey, you need to season it thoroughly.  It’s easy to forget about the inside of the turkey, but sprinkling salt in the cavity seasons the meat from the inside.
  4. Use a roasting rack inside your roasting pan. Without a rack, the meat on the bottom of your bird will end up overcooked and dry, the skin will burn, and your kitchen will fill with smoke. Invest in a roasting pan with a rack.
  5. Do not roast the turkey at one temperature, instead start in a really hot oven and then lower the heat.  Roast your turkey at 475°F for the first 30 minutes, and you’ll crisp the skin by rendering the fat out quickly. After 30 minutes, turn down your oven temperature to 350°F for the remainder of the cooking time.
  6. Do not freak out about the skin browning too quickly and turn down the oven temperature. If you notice that the skin of your turkey is getting too dark, just take it out of the oven and lay a piece of aluminum foil over the areas that are about to burn. Don’t change the oven temperature.
  7. Do not Baste:   
  1. Use a real thermometer   (This point might not apply to our turkeys.  We are always getting compliments regarding how moist they are.)  Pop-up thermometers are inaccurate, and many of them are set to “pop up” at 180 degrees, at which point your turkey will be overcooked. 
  2. If you decide to use a thermometer, place it in the thickest part of the thigh where the thigh meets the breast.  Push it in until you feel it slide into the thigh meat.  See pics
  3. Do not cook your turkey to 180°F; it’ll be dry. A turkey is safe to eat when cooked to 165°F. Some chefs recommend only cooking poultry to 160°F since meat will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven.
  4. WAIT to start checking the temperature.  For a 14- to 16-pound turkey, check the temperature after 2.5 hours. For an 18- to 20-pound turkey, check the temperature after three hours. If it isn’t done, check again every 15 minutes.
  5. You need to wait at least 15 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before you cut into it, so that the juices inside the turkey have time to settle into the meat instead of pouring out onto your cutting board and leaving you with a dry bird (and a mess).