For many people, the most intimidating part of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is, hands down, roasting the turkey. But with these basic tips from Tischer Acura, you’re all but guaranteed a perfectly browned, crisp-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside turkey. Now that’s something to be grateful for!
To make a perfectly roasted turkey, preparations need to start well before the bird enters the oven. The first step is to properly thaw your turkey. This isn’t only a food safety issue; safely and fully thawing your bird will promote even cooking, ensuring that the first cut of meat is as succulent as the last.
For best results, immerse the wrapped turkey in cold water for three to four hours or thaw it in the refrigerator inside of a pan. Since weight differs, follow the time chart on the label. NOTE: It can take up to four days to completely thaw a large turkey in the refrigerator.
Cleaning does not only involve removing the insides but also rinsing the turkey with water, inside and out, until it runs clear. Pat it dry with paper towels, then place the turkey in a roasting pan that has been misted with cooking spray. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water and discard the paper towels immediately to avoid cross-contamination during subsequent steps.
This step is technically optional, but brining your turkey can truly make the difference between meat that is bland and dry and meat that's juicy and flavorful. Recipes for brining solutions are readily available online, but the key is to let the turkey soak in a cold, salty bath long enough to soak up moisture and the flavors of any herbs and spices you include in the brine.
Preparing a turkey is important for it to roast properly, even if you cook it without stuffing. Slice a stick of refrigerated butter lengthwise into four sections of equal size and slide them under the skin on the breast portion of the turkey. If you are stuffing the turkey, position a piece of bread into the opening before trussing the legs. This slice of bread will keep the stuffing in place.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large section of aluminum foil with cooking spray and use it to loosely cover the turkey. The label on the packaging will state how long to cook your bird given its size, but the general rule of thumb is about 25 minutes per pound. About 30 minutes before the turkey is done cooking, remove the aluminum foil and finish roasting the turkey uncovered. This will ensure that the skin turns nice and brown without burning.
Basting is not necessary since the butter under the skin will do the job for you. In fact, basting can actually turn the skin soggy.
Trust thermometers over timing
It's important not to rely on timing alone—use a meat thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing the turkey from the oven. After removing the turkey, let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving it. Not only will it be easier to handle, but it will also retain moisture that way, one of the most important goals when perfectly roasting a Thanksgiving turkey.