When Thanksgiving rolls around, one of the biggest sources of anxiety is the cooking of the turkey. There are many stories about cooking the turkey wrong. That’s why it is easy to focus on the downsides of it. Plus, most people don’t cook a whole turkey very often, so the odds are good you don’t have much practice at it.
However, cooking a turkey doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It is a very simple thing to do and requires very few steps. You don’t need a turkey fryer since most people prefer it over oven-roasted.
It means that almost anyone can take on the turkey without a lot of experience or cooking skills. By following a few simple steps and safety procedures, you can get yourself a perfect turkey every time to go with your sides.
What to Know About Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey
Most of the things you should know about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey are things you should not do. The first thing you should not do is wash your turkey. It doesn’t do anything other than spread bacteria around your sink. You should also not brine your turkey. As long as you buy a high-quality supermarket bird, turkey brine isn’t necessary and will only add an extra step to the process. The best way to make your turkey meat moist and delicious is to cook it properly in a preheated oven.
One of the most important things to remember when cooking a Thanksgiving turkey is not to cook the stuffing inside it. It might seem like a great way to get the natural flavor of the turkey in the stuffing, but all you will do is contaminate it. Since the stuffing will take much longer to get up to a safe temperature, you will either burn your turkey or undercook it.
A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Cook A Thanksgiving Turkey
Step One: Thaw the Turkey
If your turkey is frozen, you will need to thaw it before prepping it. As a general rule of thumb, you should allow for 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator for every five pounds of turkey. Do not place the turkey in a warm water bath. It will bring parts of the turkey up to unsafe temperatures.
If you need to thaw the turkey faster, you can place it in a cold water bath in the refrigerator. It will cut the time down to a half-hour per pound, but you will need to change the cold water every thirty minutes. If your entire turkey isn’t completely thawed, you can still cook it. It will just take a while longer.
Step Two: Prepare the Turkey
Once your raw turkey has thawed, remove the neck and giblet bag from the cavity. Then, season the cavity with kosher salt, black pepper, and any other spices you would like to use and stuff it with lemon, onion, and herbs like rosemary and sage.
Lift the skin of the turkey from the breast and place pats of unsalted butter underneath. Slather the rest of the turkey with butter, and then tuck the wings underneath the bird on a disposable roasting pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and lightly cover the bird with foil. Then you are ready to put the turkey in the oven.
Step Three: Cook the Turkey
The key to cooking a Thanksgiving turkey is to check the temperature regularly. For a 10-12 pound regular turkey, cook it for 2 hours in a preheated 325-degree oven. For every additional pound, cook for extra 15 minutes of cooking time at the same oven temperature.
After the 2 hours of roasting time is up, take the foil off and turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Cook the turkey for another hour or until the dark meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees with an instant-read thermometer, and it’s golden brown. Let the turkey rest for an hour while covered with aluminum foil, then carve it and serve it!
Enjoy a Perfectly Roasted Turkey Every Time
Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be intimidating. Aside from the little bit of preparation, the oven is doing most of the work. As long as you use a meat thermometer to ensure that the temperature is safe, you can enjoy a perfectly roasted turkey with minimal effort.
Do you have a method for cooking your Thanksgiving turkey that you love? Let us know about it in the comment section below!