How to Cook the Perfect Turkey
There are many options for sourcing and cooking turkey. We highly recommend that you get a fresh free range bird as these birds are raised with no hormones or additives and are far superior to frozen birds.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and use the following guidelines to approximate cooking time. Remember the best way to know if your turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer.
- 8-12 lbs- (2 and 1/2-3 hours)
- 12-14 lbs (3 -4 hours)
- 14-18 lbs (3 and 1/2- 4 and 1/2 hours)
- 18-20 lbs (4 and 1/4- 5 hours)
- 20-24 lbs (4 and 1/2- 5 and 1/2)
Remember that these cooking times are only estimates, depending on your oven and altitude factors etc. (note, during the last half hour of cooking you can increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees to achieve that dark golden crispy skin.)
- You can spice up your turkey with diced or fresh, minced herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and or marjoram in addition to salt and pepper.
- Remember to bring you turkey close to room temperature and to season inside and out before cooking.
- Try a brining solution or buy a kosher turkey which has already been soaked and salted. Proponents swear by the brining method for unparalleled moisture. The down sides are the additional sodium you’re adding to the meat and the extra steps involved in brining. Also it is a possibility that the drippings will become too salty to make gravy.
- Avoid basting too frequently. This can cause soggy skin and a drop in the oven temperature, which can lengthen cooking times.
- For added flavor and moisture, tuck a few pats of butter and fresh sage leaves under the turkey’s skin. Or, brush with melted butter and place turkey in an oven roasting bag. Slice open the bag for the last 45 minutes of cooking to allow the skin to get crispy.
To stuff or not to stuff? For most people, this decision is based on tradition. For optimum food safety, the USDA recommends cooking your turkey and stuffing separately. If you do decide to stuff your turkey, keep these tips in mind.
- Stuff the turkey loosely. If you pack the stuffing too tightly, it will cook unevenly.
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the stuffing as well as the turkey-both should reach a temperature of 165 degrees.
- Instead of filling the turkey with stuffing, you can add flavor by filling the cavity with aromatics, such as sliced apples, sliced oranges, onions, lemons, garlic cloves or whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano.
- Turkey sandwiches is an obvious go to. Or.
- Toss extra turkey with dried cranberries, walnuts and a scoop of Greek yogurt for a festive post turkey day salad.
- Make a big batch of turkey vegetable soup, using leftover turkey, fresh turkey stock made from the carcass and farm fresh aromatic vegetables.