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How to cook your Thanksgiving turkey perfectly every time



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This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019 with tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is here, meaning it's time to eat turkey, or at least time to talk about it if you need a little help in these last few hours before the ritual celebration begins. If you are a beginner, or just need a refresher course, we have everything you need to know about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey – with tips on the size of turkey to buy (if there is anything left in the supermarket) , how long it takes to cook and when to defrost it (plus what to do if you forget it).

We also discuss what tools you need to make the whole thing work and what to do if you mess it up – because it happens. Of course there are countless methods of roasting a Thanksgiving turkey (and that is before you even go into smoked turkey and fried turkey), but we go with one of the most basic ones because it always works.

For an even for a quieter day, view our Thanksgiving survival guide for all the tips and tricks you need, from travel tips to prevent anger on the road while driving to how to use your Amazon Echo or Google Home for more than just setting timers and playing music. And of course, on eating healthy to avoid that dreaded Thanksgiving hangover .

What size of turkey do you need?

A fairly standard 12-15 pound turkey feeds between six and eight people as part of a meal, so scale up and down as needed. In general you need to budget one pound per person, or a maximum of two pounds per person if you want turkey. How-to-cook-thanksgiving-turkey /how-to-cook-thanksgiving-turkey.jpg cialis19659010Buchhow-to-cook-thanksgiving-turkey cialis19659011BuchMaren Caruso / Photodisc / Getty Images

How and when to defrost a turkey

Don't forget this step! Unless you buy a fresh heirloom bird, your turkey is frozen. Defrosting a turkey takes about one to six days, so plan accordingly and view our full guide to defrosting turkey (with times, methods and what to do if you forget it – you can cook it from frozen, but it will still longer and is not ideal).

You can keep the turkey in the fridge for two more days if it is thawed, so feel free to start a day earlier than you think you need, and plan a new rest day before you really plan to to cook (your & # 39; see below why).

How long you cook a turkey

The total cooking time naturally depends on the size of your bird, and a meat thermometer will always be your best friend when it comes to being sure that it has been cooked at the right temperature ( 165-170 degrees F). That said, here are some general guidelines based on an oven temperature of 350 degrees, our preferred temperature for roasting turkey. (We recommend that you start a little faster than the specified time to ensure that it does not dry out.)

How long to cook a 12-14 pound turkey: About 3 hours out of 350 degrees

How long do a 15-18 pounds of turkey cook: About 3.5 to 4 hours at 350 degrees

How long do an 18-20 pounds of turkey cook: About 4 to 4.5 hours at 350 degrees

How long do a 21-24 pounds of turkey cook: About 4.5 to 5 hours at 350 degrees. If you prefer a higher heat method, this naturally takes less time, but you run the risk of burning the skin; this also applies to the "start high and then the heat lower" method. We sometimes do that (see our recipe for seasoned roast turkey), but in general we prefer to keep the oven at the same temperature because this is the least picky method and also reliable.

We start it upside down in an attempt to get a completely moist turkey, but you don't necessarily have to; see more below.

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Do you need to pickle your turkey?

This is another optional step, but we always prefer to pickle a turkey the day before roasting. It must first be completely thawed, and then you can pick the bird with wet or salt water. The recipe below fits the dry method because it is easier than handling liters of liquid, but the salt friction achieves the same: juicy meat that is well seasoned. A word of warning: brining too long can have the opposite effect and dry out your turkey. And if you cook a butter ball, you don't have to pick it up; most supermarket birds are pre-injected with a saline solution.

What you need to cook a turkey

For a simple roasted turkey recipe, you don't need much in terms of special ingredients or equipment, but a casserole with a roasting rack is incredibly useful, and a turkey baster or brush and meat thermometer also come in handy.

Amazon

A roasting pan with a grid is ideal for cooking a turkey (not to mention other poultry and pork and beef roasts). It is much sturdier than a disposable pan, deep enough to catch a lot of dripping and the handles make maneuvering in and out of the oven much easier.

Amazon

If you baste your turkey with the drops, you want one of these in your arsenal. It comes with a cleaning brush to get all the fat out.

Amazon

A meat thermometer is the only way to know when your turkey is really ready (don't trust the little ones) plastic pop-ups that get stuck in the bird). Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the chest or thigh and make sure the probe does not touch the bone when you take the internal temperature.

If you don't have a good roasting pan with a grid, you shouldn't buy any of those disposable aluminum pans (they can be a fire hazard) – instead you can hack it with a baking tray and coarsely cut vegetables (or somewhat less tasty but functional aluminum foil). Discover how to cook turkey without a roasting pan.

How to season a turkey

Regarding the raw ingredients, in addition to the turkey itself, you need some herbs, spices and aromatics. The list below is a great starting place, but you can improvise the way you want. Poultry seasoning is fine as long as it is fresh (do not use the bottle that was left over from last year), but we prefer fresh herbs. Here is a basic shopping list for turkey herbs:

  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • vegetable oil (or olive oil)
  • half a stick of butter, softened at room temperature
  • half a lemon
  • half onion, cut into four pieces
  • one celery stick, cut into three pieces
  • fresh sage
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • bay leaves (fresh or dried)

How to cook a Thanksgiving turkey

1 Make sure that the day before you want to roast your turkey, remove the contents from the cavity. Discard the intestines (heart, liver, and gizzard) unless you like them for gravy or stuffing (or want to cook them for your pets). Reserve the neck!

2. Rub the thawed turkey all over with several generous pinches of salt, including a few under the skin covering the breast.

3. Place the turkey on a dish or baking tray, cover with plastic wrap and save until the next day. This improves the taste of the bird and helps it stay juicy. You can skip the plastic package if you want (the drier the skin, the better it becomes brown and crispy), but make sure that nothing else in the fridge touches the raw turkey.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees the next day and place a rack in the lower third. It takes about 20 minutes for the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and prepare it for roasting according to the following steps.

5. Dry the inside and outside of the turkey with kitchen paper and put the wing tips behind and underneath. Rub a generous amount of vegetable oil in the cavity, everywhere on the outside and under the skin, and then season well with salt and pepper, including in the cavity.

6. Mix the fresh herbs (sage and thyme) in the soft butter, break into small pieces and place them under the skin that covers the breast. Put the lemon, onion, bay leaf and celery in the cavity. (That's it, not stuffing; food safety police strongly advise against cooking stuffing in the turkey, and if you cook it separately, you get more crispy surface.)

7. Place the turkey fillet with the side down on the roasting rack and place the reserved neck in the bottom of the pan for extra flavor. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, baste the turkey every 20 minutes as soon as the pan juices begin to accumulate.

8. After 45 minutes, turn the turkey on its back and continue basting and roasting for about two to two and a half hours.

9. When a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 170 degrees and the juices become clear, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting. If you plan to make your own turkey gravy, set the roasting pan aside and save both the vegetables from the bird's cavity and the neck.

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Chowhound

A Simpler Method

If you do not want to deal with turning the turkey, you can easily roast it in the normal position throughout the cooking time; just baste the breast to make sure it doesn't dry out and put the pan with foil if the skin starts to brown too quickly before the meat is cooked (but remove the foil to get a nice fresh skin in the last few) minutes of cooking). Or try the butter-drenched cheese cloth trick; this is preferred by many, because when you drive, you lower the oven temperature every time you open the door.

Leveling into patchcocked turkey

If you want to try a little butcher shop, patchcock the turkey before you fry it – this helps it cook faster and more evenly, resulting in juicy white meat and much crispy skin. Moreover, it is nice to say. If you follow this route, you do not have to start the turkey breast down and check earlier than you normally would, as this will happen sooner.

How to repair overcooked, dry turkey

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things go wrong – but they can usually still be resolved. See how you can repair dry turkey if you have overcooked the bird. (You need a lot of gravy or broth.)

How to repair overcooked raw turkey

If your deceptively golden-brown turkey turns out to be raw inside, you can repair an insufficiently heated turkey here too quickly. Hint: don't just push it back in the oven and hope for the best. ] .jpg “/>


Chowhound

See Chowhound & # 39; s Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving for more tips, tricks, hacks and recipes.

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