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Thanksgiving 101 November 4, 2010

Filed under: Interesting — celebrationgoddess @ 8:27 am

THINKING THURSDAY – (enjoy learning something new!)

How to cook a perfect turkey

You have selected your turkey you have thawed. Remove the giblets bag. Actually my sister cooked the turkey with this bag inside of it. Needless to say, that’s one of the family “stories” that gets told and retold. Rinse the turkey inside and out, and dry it with a kitchen towel. I’m not an advocate of stuffing turkeys. The stuffing can be made successfully outside of the bird. I do like to add aromatics and for this recipe we will also add spices.

Turkeys have a subtle taste. The reason that many commercial turkeys are so often “enhanced”, which essentially means that the turkey has been brined, is that the industry knows that brining a turkey makes it better tasting. It also provides a buffer against overcooking. Since you can easily buy a brined turkey should you brine your own? Maybe not. Do you have the time and space the enthusiasm and a food grade container and a turkey that is “natural?”


A roasting pan with a roasting rack
Aluminum foil

Test the position of the roasting pan and rack so that turkey will be centered in the oven.

For this turkey cooking recipe you will need the following:

2 onions quartered
2 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery stalks cut into chunks
1 lemon quartered


garlic powder
black pepper

Use the following spice mixture.

6 parts garlic powder
4 parts paprika
2 parts black pepper

About 12 tablespoons of this spice mixture will be enough for about a 24 pound turkey. Rub the turkey inside and out with the spice mixture. Put the aromatics in the turkey cavity. Place one onion and all the lemon, and the parsley into the turkey cavity.

Timing the Turkey

How long to cook a turkey – oven roasting at 325 degrees F.:

Weight in lbs. 8 12 14 18 20 24
Time in hours unstuffed 2.75 3 3.75 4.25 4.5 5
Time in hours if stuffed 3 3.5 4 4.25 4.75 5.25

But remember timing is an estimate. A 14 lb. (6.5 kg) turkey may take 16 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg). A 20 lb. (9 kg) turkey may take 14 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg), and a turkey weighing more than 20 lbs.(9 kg) may take 13 minutes per pound(1/2 kg).

Always check the internal temperature much earlier than you expect the turkey to be done.

Preheat and Prepare

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F(163 degrees celsius).
Brush or spray the turkey all over with vegetable oil.

Place one onion, both carrots and both celery stalks in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Place the turkey breast up on the rack in the roasting pan.


Place your roasting pan in the preheated oven.

Wash your work area, equipment, including that towel that you dried the turkey with and your hands.

Place the turkey in the 325 degree F. (163 degree celsius) oven and let it roast for two-thirds of the cooking time. The turkey should be a light golden brown.

Make a tent of aluminum foil over the breast. Crease the foil in the center then open it up into a “tent” place it over the breast not in contact with the breast any more than necessary. Your turkey is camping not wearing a breastplate.

Watch the turkey’s temperature. It can rise quickly near the end of the cooking time. Keep an eye on your oven safe meat thermometer beginning earlier than you expect the turkey to be done. Remember no turkey cooking recipe can confidently predict the time of the finish temperature of the bird. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the turkey breast measured half way down is 160 degrees F (71 degrees celsius).  Did you notice that you didn’t need to baste? You don’t need to.

Check the temperature of the thighs. If they have not reached 155 degrees F (68.5 degrees celsius), cut them from the body and return them to the oven to finish cooking. (Watch the temperature of the thighs closely if you have returned them to the oven.)

Place your turkey on it’s serving platter and cover the turkey loosely with tented aluminum foil. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes. While resting, the internal temperature will rise 10 degrees F (5.5 degrees celsius) to the new USDA recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees F. (74 degrees celsius).

Bring your turkey to the table, slice, and enjoy!!! GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!

Laugh, learn and liven up your taste buds!