Kate's Cuisine

Jun 14 2009

Roasted Turkey Tips

There’s nothing that will make you feel like a down-home cook more than roasting a turkey. Making sure that it’s perfectly seasoned, perfectly basted, and perfectly moist are all parts that make it worth the day’s effort it usually takes to cook. But most cooks who have never roasted a whole turkey before are intimidated to do so simply because it does seem like sort of an involved process. My mom always told me that any roast is the easiest supper to prepare and that turkey’s no different. As usual, mom was right on this one but it’s still good to arm yourself with a few tricks. Here are some tips I’ve found helpful in getting perfectly golden and perfectly moist roasted turkey.

  • Any turkey that I’ve ever bought, or have seen my mom buy, has come frozen. However, I’ve heard that buying fresh-killed turkeys does make a difference in the tenderness of the bird.
  • When it comes to choosing a size for your turkey, think middle of the road. You can get turkeys as little as 6 pounds but they can get as big as 26 pounds. You’ll have problems with the wee turkeys because they can become blotchy and the massive birds may not be able to cook all the way through, which will present a safety issue.
  • Trussing a turkey is important so that it can be made into a ball, which prevents areas such as the wing tips from burning because they are ‘sticking out.’ To properly truss a turkey, first bend the wing tips under themselves, which may take a little bit of force. Then, with the trussing tucked under the turkey, run it up along both sides of the bird. Making sure that the wing tips are flat under the trussing, move to the drumsticks. Truss the drumsticks close to the rest of the turkey, pulling the trussing tight up against the drumstick. Run both sides of the trussing to the flabby tail flap and tie it tightly so it will remain on the bird during the cooking time.
  • A turkey lifter is a must-have for when you’re making a turkey dinner. Turkey lifters come in two main styles. One is a giant metal prong that is placed into the cavity of the bird with a long handle sticking out. When it’s time to pick up the bird, you can do so with one hand by simply taking hold of the handle. Other lifters come made from a silicone material and are placed underneath the turkey. The sides then come up over the sides of the bird when it’s time to take it out of the pan, giving you a little turkey sling to make things easier!
  • Placing the roasting pan on a heavy cookie sheet can help you pull it out of the oven.
  • An instant-read thermometer is essential when you’re roasting a turkey. This way you not only make sure that the entire bird is cooked and safe to eat before anyone digs in but you can also make sure you don’t overcook your meat and end up with dry bird.

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