How to cook the best turkey… ever!
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are my favorite holidays to cook a Turkey! I know it is less traditional on Easter, however, my family requests “Mama’s Turkey” for the holidays, and even in between for no special reason at all.
The first time I ever cooked a turkey I was a few years ago right after my youngest daughter was born. That year, we had a 21-pound turkey… and it was a monster! After consulting with my grandmother who was “The” cook in the family, and watching Julie Child cook one… I decided to give it a whirl.
The first step I took was washing the bird, and taking out the giblets. I rinsed it off in lukewarm water and set it in a big roasting pan, similar to the one in the picture below. I drizzled olive oil all over it and topped it off with Montreal Chicken Seasoning by McCormick. Before putting it in the oven, I will cover it with either a cover to the roasting pan or aluminum foil.
One secret I learned, is to cook the bird with the breast facing down. It stays the juiciest and the moistest with the breast facing down. I also stuff the turkey with stuffing and lay the rest of the stuffing around the turkey. This also helps to keep it juicy and moist inside.
About halfway through cooking, I will turn the turkey over to finish cooking the top. This is the most tedious part of the process. It usually takes my husband and I working together to flip it over. However, it is well worth the struggle. The turkey comes out delicious!
When we turn the turkey over, he will use an oven mitt designed to withstand heat. I will use a large fork and aid in the turkey turning over.
Intermediately I will make sure the turkey take the juice from the turkey and run it over the turkey and baste it, and even inject some of the juice back into the turkey.
Once it is done, we let it sit on top of the stove for about 10 minutes to cool down. It is important to check the temperature of the stuffing and make sure it is at 165 degrees when it first comes out. I will continue to baste it. Before taking the turkey out of the pan, I will remove the stuffing.
My husband’s favorite part of cooking a turkey is the fact that he gets to slice it up! He enjoys being the first person to “test” the turkey out.
He will cut out the dark and the white meat and separate it out on a serving dish. We have some guests who enjoy one type of meeting over the other.
RECIPE / DIRECTIONS
These times are based on placing the whole turkey in a roasting pan and into a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven.
|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|
- Take out giblets out. You can find them usually inside the turkey or where the neck was. You can save these for your stuffing or throw them out.
- Rinse turkey off with lukewarm water.
- Place turkey in a roasting pan and drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil on it.
- Top with seasoning; I use McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning. I spread it all over the turkey; top and bottom. Make sure the breast of the turkey is facing down in the pan.
- Cover pan with cover or aluminum foil.
- Baste the turkey after the first hour every 15-20 minutes or so.
- Half way through, turn turkey right side up and finish cooking.
- Place turkey in a preheated 165 degrees F oven.
- Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 Degrees F (175 degrees C). *If you stuffed a turkey, make sure that the stuffing has also reached an internal temperature of 165 F oven.
- Once finished, let it sit out on the counter to cool. Take stuffing out, and slice it however you wish!