Turkey Cooking Methods

roast turkey  

Everyone has their favorite method for roasting turkey. In FoodDay this week we will present to you 5 different methods, one a day. To help you select which method to use, we have highlighted the appearance and advantage of each method.

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Helpful Hints: Food Safety
  • Do not defrost turkey at room temperature. In the time it takes the center to defrost, the surface of the turkey could become warm enough for bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.
  • Always refrigerate a fresh or defrosted turkey. Cook within 2 to 3 days.
Helpful Hints: Leftovers
  • After cooking, remove stuffing immediately and slice turkey. Keep extra stuffing hot in a 200 degree F oven while you eat. Never leave cooked turkey, stuffing or gravy at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Refrigerate and use leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 2 to 4 days. Wrap leftovers in heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze for longer storage. Use within 1 to 2 months.
Holiday Dinner Solutions

Situation: Roasting the turkey the day before and reheating it whole.

  • Reheating risks loss of moisture and fresh taste.
  • If you must prepare the turkey ahead of time, slice the roasted turkey and place it in a aluminum foil-lined pan. Spoon broth over the turkey to prevent drying. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Reheat covered in 350 degrees F oven until hot.

Situation: Turkey is still frozen the day before Thanksgiving.

  • Speed defrosting by placing turkey in original wrapping in cold water and allow 30 minute defrosting time per pound.
  • Do not leave a turkey on the counter overnight to defrost. Room temperatures allow bacteria to grow.
Microwave Method
microwave whole turkey

This method is recommended only for small whole turkeys and turkey breasts. A oven bag is used to promote even cooking.

Appearance—lightly browned with the use of a browning and seasoning sauce. Skin is not "crisp" but resembles microwave-cooked chicken.

Advantage—the fastest method for cooking turkeys weighing 8 to 12 pounds.


How To:

Shake 1 tablespoon flour in a oven bag. Use large-size bag (14" x 20") for 8 to 12-pound turkey and 4 to 7-pound turkey breast. Leave flour in bag. Place bag in 2-inch-deep microwave-safe baking dish.

Remove neck and giblets from both cavities of defrosted turkey. Rinse turkey, pat dry and brush with a combination of 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon browning and seasoning sauce. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika for additional color, if desired. Do not stuff turkey.

Slice 1 onion and 2 stalks celery; place in oven bag. Place turkey, breast side up, in oven bag on top of vegetables. Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2-inch slits in top of oven bag. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) for 7 to 9 minutes per pound rotating dish every 15 minutes. Not recommended for turkey over 12 pounds

Use an instant-read thermometer after cooking. Turkey is done when thermometer reads 180 degrees to 185 degrees F for whole turkey or 170 degrees to 175 degrees F for turkey breast. Insert thermometer through slit in oven bag into inner thigh for whole turkey or into thickest part of breast for turkey breast.

For easy slicing, let stand 10 minutes after removing from microwave oven. To open, carefully cut or slit top of oven bag. NOTE Microwave directions were tested in 600 to 700-watt microwaves. Higher or lower wattage ovens may need adjustment in cooking times.


Provided by The Reynolds Wrap Kitchens


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This page originally published as a FoodDay article (circa 1997).

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified September 2007

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