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How to cook a turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us and it is time to cook the turkey.  Does this invoke fear in your kitchen? For many it does.

I know I always have to look up the cooking times, as I can never remember...and the decision as to cooking method is always a challenge. Do you roast in a paper bag, upside down, high temp, then low, brine it , fry it, butterfly it, stuff it or turducken it?

Over the years, we have tried many of these options in our house. Can I swear by any one in particular? Well, the last few years, I have started my turkey breast side down. Let it cook for an hour or two at 325F, then flip it to finish cooking and browning. This method allows the juices to get into the breast and reslts in nicely moist white meat. Basting throughout the cooking time helps, as does a nice rub down of herbs and butter, being sure to get that under the skin for the best flavor. Onions, citrus and herbs in the cavity also adds a nice flavor from the inside out. I like to cook my stuffing (therefore becoming dressing) in a seperate container for a crunchy top, soft center.

The paper bag trick - oiling a paper bag, insert turkey inside, fold edges over to close, then roast - left us with a pale turkey. Brining, which should increase moisture , well, did not. At least no in our house. High heat, then low - nicely brown, but the bigger turkeys end up almost burning the skin and wings, even with the foil leg warmers. I have not deep fried yet, but if anyone is doing this - can I come over?

Turducken seems overkill and I am not a fan of duck, so no thanks....Stuffing or not is up to you - just remember to leave extra time to cook, and stuff your bird just before roasting to avoid salmonella. 

So how long do you cook a bird? Typically 15 mins a pound at 325F is a good rule. If stuffed - add an additional 15-30 mins to your total cooking time. The center of the stuffing must reach 160F to be safe, unstuffed, your turkey, at the thickest part of the thigh should read 180F. Once cooked, remove from oven and let rest for at least 20 mins, up to an hour - tented in foil, to keep all the juices in the bird, not running down the cabinets.  

If the weather allows, you can butterfly your bird, and grill it. Or do it whole....freeing up your oven. Keep a 350 heat in your grill, and be sure to keep an eye on your coals. Here's a link to consider this option:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cooking-live/turkey-on-the-grill-recipe/index.html

However you cook your bird, have a happy thanksgiving everyone and good eating!

27 Comments to How to cook a turkey:

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Your advice is great! Seems, you are a great cooker! Still, I won't be able to cook nice turkey even following these instructions((( Somehow, it isn't get well prepared by me((
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