Who can deny the delicious flavor of a turkey?! I am the turkey nut in my family for many reasons. Once a turkey has been served for dinner, I use every last bit of the left overs. The turkey is stripped down, the bones are boiled for soup base, the white meat is saved for sandwiches (turkey salad sandwiches or just turkey buns) and the dark meat is saved for soups & pot pies. Even the drippings in the pan are reserved for gravy, pot pies or soup base. So during holidays when turkeys go on sale for $0.99 / lb, I make my round to each of the grocery stores and buy as many turkeys as I can! My mouth is watering!!
The best part about cooking a turkey is there are no rules. The internet will TELL you there are a ton of rules, but please, disregard them. There is NO set ‘cooking time per pound’. There is only cooking it RIGHT—and that means using a meat thermometer. When a turkey is cooked to perfection, the breast will be 170 degrees. BUT – here’s something they don’t teach you. When your turkey comes out of the oven, it’s still hot and it’s still cooking.. which pushes that 170 degree doneness you’ve worked so hard for up to 180. Which is fine, but could be dry (I’ve cooked a turkey up to 200 and it was still incredible). The trick is taking your turkey out at 160-165 temp, tenting it with aluminum foil, and letting it sit for at least 10 minutes for the meat relax and slowly coast up to 170. Perfection!
http://montyahalt.com/index.html Don’t you dare stuff that turkey with bread dressing. Oh honey, no. Because a turkey is cooked for so long, it’s a good idea to offer some moisture to it by stuffing it with a thoroughly pricked lemon or 2. The lemon slowly squeezes itself into the meat to add moisture, but doesn’t leave a sour taste (more of a slight hint of lemon heaven). Some people use an apple.
Don’t baste. You waste oven heat by opening the door, and the liquid slides right off. It doesn’t really absorb. There are better, easier ways to make sure your turkey is moist.
If you love a crispy skin like me, make tiny slits in the turkey breast (by tiny I mean less than an inch) , take a teaspoon of butter and slide it up under the turkey breast. I. Can’t. Even.
Glaze your turkey. I use Epicures Bali Glow glaze which is a perfect medley of lime, chili and lemongrass. Mix the glaze with some olive oil and apply to the whole turkey for delicious flavour. Other flavour options could be: rosemary, thyme and garlic, or sage & apple slices.
Add some chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. I use Epicure’s chicken broth base because it has great flavour and no salt. I add an honest 1″-3″ liquid to the bottom of the pan. The broth gives the oven a humid atmosphere instead of dry heat, and when you add vegetables, the liquid helps veggies cook and adds flavour to your gravy.
Throw that Turkey in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes uncovered. This sears the turkey and locks the juices in. Put the lid on the turkey at this point. NOW here’s the key: Reduce the heat to 350 and let that turkey coast down to 160 internal temperature. You’ll have to keep checking on it with a meat thermometer.
The last half hour of cooking I throw vegetables into the pan. Whole carrots and celery sticks.. Leeks and turnips.. red onions and potatoes. They help flavour your broth and add starch, so your gravy will be incredible. And, if you have folks at your table that prefer roast potatoes to mashed potatoes (we don’t associate with these people), they can pick roast potatoes.