Thanksgiving 2014 will go down in my memory as a really good holiday! Not everyone in the family was able to make it to our house for dinner, but those that were able to make it seemed to enjoy themselves!
The turkey was cooked to perfection, if I do say so myself! It helps to cook it for several hours at a slightly lower temp than most people cook it at! Here’s my recipe for an excellent turkey!
- Make sure the turkey is COMPLETELY thawed! We put our turkey in the refrigerator the Friday before the holiday. Yes it takes up a lot of room! But this is the best way to thaw a turkey safely! If you aren’t able to start yours thawing that early, use the cold-water-bath method. (Here is a link to explain the technique further: Tips for fast thawing.)
- Plan ahead! Calculate how long you need to cook the turkey. For a general rule, you should cook your turkey 20 minutes at 300°f for each pound it weighs. For example, a 15 pound turkey will take 5 hours to cook at 300°f. (20 minutes x 15 pounds = 300 minutes. 300 minutes/60 minutes per hour = 5 hours). This way you will know how early you need to get up to prepare it before your scheduled dinner.
- On the day you plan to cook, at least an hour before you must have the turkey in the oven, pull your turkey out and get it seasoned. What I do is I take the turkey out of it’s packaging. Then I remove the plastic holder around the legs. If it’s a metal holder I’ll leave it in. They say you can leave in the plastic holder while it cooks but I don’t like plastic being heated up in my meat. I will usually remove the plastic pop-up indicator as well. (They’re never right anyway!) Then I place my turkey on it’s back in my roasting pan. Cover it with olive oil and generously sprinkle on my spices. I use Mrs. Dash Grilling Blends plus whatever I feel like grabbing from the cupboard. Make sure you get your spices all over the bird as well as in the crevices!
- Stuff the turkey with 2 or three quartered onions and 4 or 5 cloves of garlic. Don’t overstuff it. These are just used for flavor and will be thrown out when it’s done.
- Put your turkey, uncovered in the oven at 400°f for 20 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 300°f, cover the turkey, and cook it for 1/2 hour less than your calculated time. Come back about once an hour to check on it and baste it with it’s own drippings.
- 1/2 hour before you need to pull the turkey from the oven, remove the cover, baste the turkey and let it finish cooking uncovered.
- Test your turkey with a meat thermometer before serving! It doesn’t matter of the cooked indicator popped up or not, you need to check the temperature deep in the breast to make sure you have reached at least 180°! Anything lower than that and you aren’t done! Make sure that the skin between the breast and the leg is thin and translucent. If it is still thick and opaque then that part of your turkey didn’t heat as well and your thighs may still be uncooked. (This usually happens when the turkey wasn’t completely thawed before placing in the oven!)
- If you are at temp, and the skin is translucent, pull the turkey and set it aside while you finish all your other dishes. I usually have someone else at the dinner help to carve the turkey, and another guest to mash the potatoes, and if anyone else wants to help at this point, I generally let them! Give me a moment to enjoy my glass of wine before we all sit down to eat!
If you follow the temperature and time per pound directions for cooking a fully thawed bird, your turkey should turn out awesome every time!
This is how I cook my bird. How do you cook yours? Do you have any favorite seasonings you ad? Tricks for moisture? What about side dishes? What are the go-to bring alongs that your family has every year?