Chapter 6. Roasting a Turkey
Earlier cookbooks recommended longer cooking times, but with
today's turkeys bred with more white meat, such times will result
in dry, overcooked birds. Follow our tips for roasting and checking
the temperature to achieve a perfectly cooked bird.
Q: How do I keep the breast meat moist when
A: The best way is to cook the turkey at a low
temperature like 325 degrees F. And to remove it from the oven when
just done. While some people feel basting is unnecessary since it
doesn't permeate the skin, others recommend basting and these
techniques for keeping the bird moist:
- Method #1
Soak a double layer of cheesecloth in melted butter
or canola oil. Drape the cloth over the turkey while it roasts. The
skin will be a rich, golden brown; if you refer a crispy skin,
remove the cheesecloth 30 minutes before taking the bird from the
- Method #2
Baste the bird with melted butter and/or pan juices
every 30-40 minutes while cooking. Or use a nonstick spray. (NOTE:
Allow extra cooking time whenever you open and close the
- Method #3
Loosen the skin of the bird and press the stuffing
between the skin and the meat; the surface will look lumpy, but the
breast meat will be remarkably moist.
- Method #4
Brine the turkey overnight, refrigerated, in 2 cups
kosher salt dissolved in 2 gallons water. The meat stays moister
but it also takes less time to cook, so check the internal
temperature earlier than usual.
Turkey Tip: To prevent the skin from overbrowning,
shield the breast with a tented piece of foil, then remove it the
last 45-60 minutes of cooking to allow the skin to brown.
- Step 4: Set your timer—you'll want to start
checking your bird abut 3/4's of the way into its estimated cooking
time, based on the recipe or our cooking chart. When the timer goes
off, check the bird using the thermometer. If the bird is done,
remove it from the oven and set it sit 20-30 minutes before carving
so the flesh reabsorbs the meat juices.
Turkey Tip: While the turkey is resting before
carving, take this time to make the gravy. By the time the gravy is
done, the turkey should be just about ready to serve.
- Step 5: Remove all of the stuffing from the
cavities, if you have stuffed the bird. For health reasons, never
store stuffing in the bird.
- Step 6: Carve the bird and give thanks—it's
time to serve your Thanksgiving meal!
Perfect Turkey Handbook
Tips Before Cooking
Buying a Turkey
- What size turkey should I buy?
- Is it better to buy one large turkey or two small ones?
- Should I buy fresh or frozen?
- What about turkeys that have been injected with fats and
- What about turkey parts and frozen stuffed turkeys?
Storing an Uncooked Turkey
- How long can a whole turkey be kept frozen?
- How long can a fresh turkey be kept refrigerated?
Thawing a Frozen Turkey
- Thawing Rules
- Thawing Methods
- Turkey Thawing Charts
Stuffing (or Not Stuffing) a Turkey
- Is it best to cook the stuffing inside the bird, or separately
in a baking dish?
- If I do want to stuff the bird, what's the best way to do
- How much stuffing do I need?
- Do I need to close up the cavity after it has been
Preparing the Turkey for Roasting
- Preparations Step-by-Step
- Stuffing & Trussing
- Do I need to truss the bird's legs, or can I just roast it the
Roasting the Turkey
- Roasting Step-by-Step
- How do I keep the breast meat moist when cooking?
Chapter 7. How
to Tell When It's Done
- Use a Meat Thermometer
- My turkey comes with a plastic pop-up timer. Can't I use that
- How accurate are "recommended cooking times"?
- How can I tell when the turkey is done?
- USDA Timetable for Turkey Roasted at 325 degrees F.
Making the Gravy
- Rules for Making Gravy
- Making the Basic Gravy
- Additions to Gravy
Carving the Bird
- Basic Carving steps
- Removing the Thigh, Drumstick & Wings
- Carving the breast
Storing Leftovers & Food Safety After
- Storing leftovers
- Reheating leftovers
Perfect Turkey Handbook
Using a Meat Thermometer
This page modified November 2006