Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't be such a turkey!

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I made yet another fabulous bird. It's taken several years to develop a fool-proof turkey method but I've done it. If you follow the below steps, you will never have to worry about how your turkey will turn out ever again.

One thing though - You need a probe thermometer. It's the only way to truly tell when your bird is done. They're dirt cheap, especially if you buy the one from PC (doesn't come with a magnet on the back but you can add one).

Oh, and the brining of the turkey is a must. Not only does it give you a moist, succulent bird, but it changes the cooking properties of the meat and reduces the overall cooking time.


Ingredient List

whole young turkey (~ 14 lbs)

vegetable oil

table salt

brown sugar

Hardware List

large bucket or cooler (~ 4 gallon)

probe thermometer

electric knife (optional)

rack or root vegetables

aluminum foil

Thawing Directions

If the turkey needs to be thawed from frozen, place it in a pan, still in its packaging, in the bottom of the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

If the turkey is still frozen the day before cooking, completely submerse it in a bucket full of COLD water for 6-8 hours, changing the water every 3 hours.

Brining Directions

Place the thawed turkey in a bucket or cooler and determine how much water is required to completely submerse it (~3 gallons).

For every gallon of liquid (16 cups), combine ½ cup table salt and ⅓ cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups water for each gallon required and heat until everything is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Pour the mixture into the bucket along with the remaining 14 cups water per gallon. Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove any giblets. Gently add the turkey to the bucket, breast side down. If necessary, place a heavy object on top to keep the turkey completely submersed.

Let the turkey soak for 8-10 hours, in the refrigerator. If the turkey is not completely submerged, flip it over half way through the brining process. Return the turkey to the empty bucket and store it in the refrigerator until ready for cooking.

Cooking Directions

Thoroughly rinse the turkey, inside and out, to remove any salt deposits on the skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Line the bottom of the roasting pan with a rack or with root vegetables. Place the turkey in the roasting pan and let it sit enough to remove any remaining surface moisture (~ ½-1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Tuck the turkey’s wings behind its back and tie its legs together with twine or tuck them through the tail fat.

Insert the probe thermometer into the deepest part of the breast meat. Mold an aluminum foil triangle to the breast area of the turkey and remove for later use. Brush the entire turkey with a small amount of vegetable oil.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes to brown the skin.

Return the aluminum foil triangle to the breast area of the turkey and drop the oven temperature to 350°F.

Cook the turkey until the probe thermometer reaches a temperature of 165°F (~1½-2 hours). Check a second location in the breast meat to verify temperature.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit, covered with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes.

Carving Directions

Using an electric knife (preferably), cut the thighs to the joint, break the joint manually, and then continue to cut through to sever the leg. Cut the thigh from the drumstick.

Cut into the breast meat at the wing and follow in and up to the ribs. Slice the breast meat off in thin slabs.


If the turkey is done too early, tent with foil and let it sit in a 200°F oven until ready.

Sample timeline for a 6:00 PM dinner:

2:30 PM Place turkey in roasting pan at room temperature.

3:10 PM Turn on oven. Prep turkey.

3:30 PM Broil turkey at 500°F for 30 min.

4:00 PM Roast turkey at 350°F until done.

Nutrition (per 1 cup)

Calories 238

Total fat 7 g

Saturated fat 2.3 g

Cholesterol 106 mg

Sodium 98 mg

Carbohydrate 0 g

Dietary fibre 0 g

Sugars 0 g

Protein 41 g

Vitamin A 0 %DV

Vitamin C 0 %DV

Calcium 4 %DV

Iron 14 %DV

Original Source: Me! Compiled from a dozen cooking shows and books.

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