Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tips for Cooking a Perfect Turkey

As the centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, the Turkey is usually the most intimidating thing to prepare, however, it can be the easiest!  Scott from our Cooking School has come up with this handy guide of "Turkey Tips" to ensure you present your guests with a golden, moist turkey.

Brining a Turkey
Why Brine your Turkey?
Soaking a turkey in a brining solution will help ensure a moist, juicy cooked meat.  The salt-water brine solution increases the juiciness of the meat by breaking down the protein structure.  Water and seasonings will be infused and absorbed into the meat during the cooking process.  The moisture and flavor is maintained during the cooking which leaves you with a juicy, moist turkey.

How to Brine a Turkey
Tip:  Only brine a turkey that has not been injected with a salt solution.  This will create an over salted turkey.

  1. Remove giblets and place your turkey into a stockpot or bucket and make enough room on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to ensure any spills will not contaminate foods below.
  2. Create your brine using the following ratio (creating enough to fully cover your turkey in your stockpot or bucket)
  3. Dissolve salt and sugar in two cups of hot water.  Stir in remaining gallon, plus 3 1/2 quarts of cold water.
  4. Cover your turkey in the solution and refrigerate for at least 10 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, poor off your brine, rinse the turkey well with cool tap water and pat dry with paper towels.
Gravy Cooking Tip:  Remember, the turkey has already absorbed a significant amount of salt from the brining process, so be aware that the pan drippings you will use for gravy will have a high salt content.

Creating a Turkey that is Golden Brown
  • Brush the skin with melted butter or oil prior to cooking. This makes for a more golden and crispy skin.
  • Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan and place into a preheated, 350 degree F oven.
    • An unstuffed, 8-12 pound turkey should cook for about 20 minutes per pound
    • An unstuffed, 13-16 pound turkey should cook for about 15 minutes per pound
  • Bake until the skin is light golden color and then cover the bird loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting the turkey is not necessary, but helps promote even browning.
  • The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F at the thigh. To get an accurate reading, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body and should not touch the bone.

Be sure to check out our Side Dish Tips as well as our Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving!

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