Unsure how long you’re supposed to leave the bird in the oven? If you’re baking it at 325°F (the lowest temperature the USDA recommends), you’ll need to bake a 20-lb turkey in the oven for 4 to 5 hours if it’s unstuffed, and 4 ¼ to 5 ¼ hours if it’s stuffed.Nov 20, 2017
Roast the turkey uncovered at a temperature ranging from 325°F to 350°F. Higher temperatures may cause the meat to dry out, but this is preferable to temperatures that are too low which may not allow the interior of the turkey to cook to a safe temperature.
You’ll need a meat thermometer to make sure you cook your turkey to the right temperature. Insert it close to, but not touching, the thigh bone. If it reads 180 degrees F in the thigh and 170 degrees F in the breast, it’s done and ready to serve.
For 14 people, buy a 20-pound turkey.
Wash Hands and Surfaces; not the Turkey
According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb, or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.
Q: Should I roast the bird covered or uncovered? A: The Butterball folks recommend cooking the turkey uncovered in a roasting pan. … If you put foil on the breast, remove it about 30-45 minutes before the turkey is done to allow the breast to brown.
Most recipes will tell you to baste your turkey every thirty minutes. But our rule of thumb is actually every forty minutes, and here’s why. You don’t want to open the oven too many times, or else the whole bird will take much long to cook, and that’s a huge inconvenience.
The amount of resting time depends on the size of the bird, but at least 20 minutes is needed. A large bird can wait up to 40 minutes or longer, depending on the temperature of the room.
The best way to be sure a turkey — or any meat — is cooked safely and done is to use a meat thermometer. If the temperature of the turkey, as measured in the thigh, has reached 180°F. and is done to family preference, all the meat — including any that remains pink — is safe to eat.
Here’s the calculation: plan on 24 hours of fridge thawing for every 5 pounds of frozen turkey (for example: budget 4 full days of thawing in the fridge for a 20-pound turkey). Keep the turkey wrapped, and occasionally check to see if the baking sheet or roasting pan needs to be drained.
Thawing in the refrigerator is the ONLY recommended way to defrost a frozen turkey. For it to work, however, you’ll need plenty of time: 24 hours of defrosting time for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird. A large turkey, say, 15 to 20 pounds, will need to spend 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Don’t butter your bird
Placing butter under the skin won’t make the meat juicier, though it might help the skin brown faster. However, butter is about 17 percent water, and it will make your bird splotchy, says López-Alt. Instead, rub the skin with vegetable oil before you roast.
Pros of Brining a Turkey
Brining a turkey adds moisture and flavor, particularly when you use a flavorful brine. Brines can include all sorts of flavorings including herbs and spices, making the turkey taste like far more than your average roast bird.
Raw turkey — or raw meat of any kind — does have a slight odor, but the smell of meat that has gone rancid is quite unpleasant. By the time you can smell it, the bird is already bad and you should throw it out. … Spoilage may cause fading or darkening of color, and the meat may feel sticky or slimy to touch.
Most people overcook turkey because they overestimate its cooking time. To avoid this deadly Thanksgiving sin, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh when the bird is nearly done (don’t hit the bone). When the thermometer reads 165, take it out!
When you should start cooking: Season the turkey the night before and start cooking it Thanksgiving morning. While it’s best to actually cook your turkey on Thanksgiving day, Holzman recommends seasoning your turkey the night before.
When to Tent a Turkey
You can choose to tent a turkey during the beginning of the roasting period and remove the tent for the last 30 to 45 minutes for browning, or you can wait until the turkey reaches a golden brown color before adding a tent of foil.
The general rule is 15 to 20 minutes per pound of turkey when cooking an unstuffed turkey. Since roasting a stuffed turkey is no longer considered food-safe (not to mention doing so dries out the turkey meat) it’s best to stick to this method and bake one of these crowd-pleasing stuffing recipes in a separate dish.
Cook the turkey breast side down.
While the turkey roasts, the juices fall down towards the breast, resulting in the most succulent meat. The breast is also more protected from the heat, which helps keep it from getting too dried out.
You shouldn’t. This might be surprising since many of us have defrosted frozen chicken on the counter at least once, but the answer is a hard “no” when it comes to a full turkey. And in terms of the chicken, you’re really not supposed to thaw it out on the counter anyway.
Fair enough—putting the bird on a makeshift rack, or “foil coil” as the experts at Butterball refer to it—gives the juices a chance to drain, so the bottom of the turkey doesn’t get soggy. Surround the turkey with quartered vegetables to roast, and some chicken broth, which will keep the bird tender and juicy.
First, Bring Your Bird to Room Temp
Your turkey will cook more evenly and faster if you start it out at room temperature so remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. If you plan to stuff your turkey, wait until you’re ready to put it in the oven before putting the stuffing in the turkey.
Cook your turkey until your thermometer reads 155 -160 degrees. (Yes, we know that new safe cooking guidelines say to cook your bird to 165 degrees (they used to say 180!), but remember that your turkey will continue to cook after removed from the oven and it’s temperature will increase by 10 degrees while resting.
While some recipes state that turkey should be cooked to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat is safe to consume once it reaches the 165-degree mark. Cooking the breasts past 165 can result in dry meat, but the dark meat can be cooked to 180.
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