Cooking a Turkey

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Things You’ll Need:

  • turkey
  • oven or roaster
  • meat thermometer
  • foil
  • r oasting pan
  • Reynold’s roasting bag (optional)
  • onion, carrot, celery, herbs (for putting inside the cavity)
  • a little oil or melted butter
  • herbs or salt and pepper (for the skin)


Thaw the bird 3-4 days ahead of time. If you don’t, you CAN thaw it in the sink in a cold water bath and that will take pretty much a whole day.


When the bird is thawed, remove the baggies of giblets, neck and other parts from the cavities. There is a cavity on both ends. Be sure to check both. You can use these parts for making stock or some people like to use the livers and giblets in the stuffing Preheat the oven to 475 (don’t worry… you’ll see).


Rinse the bird in cold water and put in on a rack in your roasting pan I like to use the foil, disposable pans just because cleaning up is such a chore and there are so many other things to do when you are serving a big meal to a lot of people.


Don’t put stuffing inside your turkey. Instead, stick some vegetables and herbs inside such as: celery, onion, parsley, rosemary, carrot. Cook your stuffing in your oven BESIDE the bird instead of INSIDE the bird.


Some people say that you simply must separate the skin from the breast and rub butter or oil and place herbs UNDER the skin. I have done this, but honestly didn’t think it was any better than when I DIDN’T do this. I don’t bother. I just put melted butter on the outside and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and rosemary and I’ve been very happy with the results.


Now, cook the turkey in the oven at 475 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat way down to 250. Cook for 20 minutes per pound at this temperature. This method of cooking is supposed to help keep the turkey moist. Another method (the one I normally use) is to set the oven for 325 and keep it the same the whole time (15-20 minutes per pound). Some people like to use the Reynold’s Roasting Bags. They do make clean up easier, but the skin does not come out as good and the drippings for gravy are sub-par. A meat thermometer in the thigh should read 180 in the thigh when it’s done.

When the turkey is done, take it out of the oven and tent some foil over it and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. This is usually a good time to work on gravy and other dishes. If the turkey is really done, the joints will feel loose and all the juices will run clear. Be sure to look where the legs and the breast touch, as this will likely be the spot where you can see it if it’s still not done cooking.


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