Do you need Tips for roasting a Thanksgiving turkey?
Probably not BUT… We are going back to the basics here, just in case there are a few new cooks out there.
First I have to tell you that I am not an EXPERT on preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey.
When I started this blog, I did not intend on teaching people how to tablescape, cook, bake or do anything of that nature other than to provide a few of my family recipes and pretty dishes and to show you how I do it.
Believe me when I say, it is not rocket science, but simply what I have learned at both my grandmother’s knees as well as my mother and aunts.
Throw in a little bit of trial and error and my loving to talk and this is what you get!
I can not believe that Thanksgiving is just two weeks away.
We hear it all the time, but where has the year gone?
I still think someone tore out a few months from my calendar, OK, maybe not.
So let’s talk turkey tips.
If you get a frozen turkey, begin thawing it in the refrigerator well before you’ll need to put it in the oven. It will take about 4 hours per pound to defrost in your fridge.
And yes, over the years I have defrosted it in the kitchen sink under running water and in my early years….are you ready for this confession?….
……I have actually let the frozen turkey sit on the counter thawing away.
If you get a fresh turkey, order it at least a week in advance and pick it up the day before Thanksgiving.
Let’s talk about brining.
Over the years, I have experimented with brining the turkey and not brining the turkey and I have found there to be no difference…that is if you do not overcook your turkey.
Many of us remember our mom’s getting up at zero dark thirty to put the turkey in the oven and that poor bird roasted for hours and hours and hours, no wonder the turkey tasted dry…it was overcooked. (see roasting chart below)
So if you want to brine it…go for it. If you don’t want to take the time. Don’t brine.
Make preparing the turkey and the dinner easy on yourself. It is not fun to be completely worn out when your guests arrive or your family sits down to dinner.
The next area of contention has been whether to stuff the turkey or place the stuffing (dressing) in a casserole dish.
I have done it both ways and I continue to do it both ways.
Let me explain.
I came from the old school where the stuffing was placed in the turkey and it was and is called stuffing.
People concerned with the stuffing not reaching the right cooked temperature, etc, suggest putting the stuffing, (now it becomes “dressing”) into a casserole dish and baking it separately.
It is obvious why one is called stuffing and one is called dressing.
Yep! I knew you would.
You guys are amazing. 🙂
I personally like putting a stuffing in my turkey, but I only put a portion of it in the neck cavity, (for plumpness, it just makes for a prettier presentation) …..
AND I also put a portion of it in the cavity of the bird. I like the flavor the stuffing and the bird give the turkey meat. I secure the stuffing loosely in a cheesecloth that I tie up and insert into the bird. It is just so much easier to remove the little bag than to be digging around in the innards for stray bits of stuffing once the turkey is roasted.
I like to tie the legs together as it ensures uniform cooking and it also makes the turkey easy to carve.
Sooooo you may put your stuffing/dressing where ever you like to put it. Do what you like best.
At this point I place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast being careful not to let the probe touch a bone.
The next step is putting your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, but don’t worry if you don’t have a rack. All you need to do is elevate the turkey.
How about this for turkey tips?
You can improvise with whatever you have in your kitchen, including veggies, the easiest is aluminum foil rolled in a thick roll. Lay the foil rolled into a circle in the bottom of your roasting pan and place the turkey on top of the roll of foil.
Your turkey is now ready for your preheated oven.
We come to yet another area that has caused a bit of Thanksgiving discussion and that is whether to baste the turkey while roasting.
Before putting the turkey in the oven, I like to put a few aromatics in the cavity before my cheesecloth bag of stuffing. I cut up lemon, onion, celery, rosemary sprigs and carrots or whatever floats your boat and place it around the bottom of the cavity. I think it also adds to the flavor of the turkey. Don’t cut them in large chunks unless you are not planning to add the stuffing.
Then I add chunks of unsalted butter. As much as you like.
I also stuff butter under the skin and I coat the turkey with even more butter….add thyme or whatever herbs you like.
After placing the turkey in an open roasting pan and into the oven, I close the door and forget it.
You see, I believe each time you open that oven door to baste with drippings or add more butter you extend the cooking time and your cooking thermometer goes up and down like a yoyo. Some say to baste every 30 minutes. Think about your oven having to come up to temperature again and again. I don’t think that is conducive to having a moist turkey. It dries it out in my opinion.
I like to start my turkey in a very hot oven…about 450 -500° F for about 30 minutes. I then turn my oven down to 350° F
So I say…
Don’t baste it, and keep an eye on the meat thermometer. As soon as it reaches 161° F., immediately remove the turkey from the oven and let it set for at least 30 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook just a few minutes longer and all the juices will remain intact for a very moist piece of meat with a crispy outer skin.
If you notice that the breast is getting a bit too brown, use an aluminum foil tent to loosely cover to prevent further browning.
My turkey is always a success and I love the comments when they say, it is so tasty and moist.
I also have a smoker and a turkey fryer and even a rotisserie. I have also used roasting bags…and I still like the old fashioned roasting in the oven.
And the aroma coming from that oven and turkey is to die for.
The sizes and cooking times are below in this chart, altho I find my usual 12-14 pound turkey reaches the 160° F mark in about 3 hours. It will depend of course on your oven. Yes, the chart does say unstuffed is 3 to 3-1/2 hours and mine is stuffed lightly.
|Weight of Bird||Roasting Time (Unstuffed)||Roasting Time (Stuffed)|
|10 to 18 pounds||3 to 3-1/2 hours||3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours|
|18 to 22 pounds||3-1/2 to 4 hours||4-1/2 to 5 hours|
|22 to 24 pounds||4 to 4-1/2 hours||5 to 5-1/2 hours|
|24 to 29 pounds||4-1/2 to 5 hours||5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours|
So now, I am sure you are wondering why I am showing you pumpkin pie while talking turkey tips.
I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.
I love using the little crust cutters to make leaf, acorn and pumpkin shaped for the tops of my pumpkin pie. I think it just makes the pies a little prettier. The taste is the same, but remember we eat first with our eyes. I will give you a step by step in a later post.
Hugs and I hope you and your turkey come away with a better understanding of each other.
Please comment, I'd love to hear from you.