How To Cook A Turkey

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how to cook a turkey
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Nothing says holiday or “home” like the smell of a turkey cooking in the oven. It can seem quite daunting to take on the task, but the steps, though seemingly

extensive, are not hard at all.

Begin with a fresh or thawed turkey (following manufacturers’ directions for thawing – be aware that this varies by the size of the turkey and could take over twenty four hours) and plenty of time before dinner will be served. Remove the wrapper, neck, and giblets from the body and neck cavities.

Rinsing is not necessary as the roasting temperature and time will kill all bacteria but if you do decide to run some water over the bird, make sure the surrounding area is clear of any utensils or pans you’ll be using for food preparation to avoid contamination.

Spray a roasting pan with oil and place the turkey inside. Make sure there’s enough room on all sides and that the pan is deep enough to hold the weight of the turkey.

If you are stuffing the turkey, do so before

you put it into the oven. Remember to use only cooked ingredients in your stuffing (for example, no uncooked meat, no raw eggs) and prepare it right before you use it. Fill the cavity and neck of the bird with the stuffing, about three-quarters cup of stuffing per pound of turkey.

This will allow heat to circulate during cooking and ensure the internal temperature will reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tuck the legs together and insert an oven-safe meat thermometer in the deepest part of the thigh. (You can also use an instant read thermometer, which will be inserted when its time to check for doneness). Brush the skin with oil to keep the skin moist.

Place the turkey into a preheated oven that is heated to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the manufacturer’s guidelines for cooking time; generally speaking, a stuffed turkey will take thirty to forty minutes longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. For a turkey ranging between 12 and 20 pounds, you will need 3 to 5 hours of roasting; your meat thermometer will be your best guide.

When the skin begins to get a light golden color and you’re about an hour away from your estimated cooking time, use some lightweight foil to tent over the breast to prevent overcooking.

The turkey is safe to eat when the minimum internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the innermost part of the thigh and wing, and the thickest part of the breast to make sure the entire turkey is cooked all the way through.

Let it stand outside the oven for 15 to 20 minutes (remove the stuffing if applicable) before carving and serving. Then just eat and enjoy!

Further Reading and Additional Resources

How to cook a turkey — according to Butterball

How to cook a turkey technically — from ‘Cooking for Engineers’

How to cook a turkey ‘perfectly’ — according to someone who spent 56 years figuring it out

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