How to Roast Your Turkey
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Cooking a turkey is actually surprisingly easy. To prepare the turkey for roasting in the oven, first remove the giblets (and save for gravy or stuffing). Next, rinse the bird inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
- If you are stuffing the bird, stuff it loosely, allowing about ½ to ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
- Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tie drumsticks together with string (for stuffed birds only).
- Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone.
- Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven. To determine how long to cook a turkey, use this chart to estimate the time required for baking.
- Bake until the skin is a light golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting is not necessary, but helps promote even browning.
- The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) at the thigh.
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Other Cooking Methods
Roasting a turkey is the easiest cooking method: the oven remains a constant temperature, and it's easy to baste the turkey and check the internal temperature periodically. But for the adventurous, grilling or deep-frying a turkey provides a different experience and frees up your oven for other dishes.
Learn more about these cooking methods:
Ready to Eat
The only reliable test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin. The turkey is done when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) at the thigh.
If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing. The stuffing should be 165 degrees F as well. When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes.
After resting at room temperature, the juices are redistributed throughout the turkey and the meat stands up to carving better--the juices stay in the slices, rather than on your countertop.
Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest and use the drippings in the roasting pan to make gravy. Use a sharp knife for carving and serve the meat on a warmed platter.
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