Time to Brush Upon How to Cook a Turkey
‘Tis that time again… yes, the season to be up to the gizzard with turkey innards! Want something more than being stuck in the kitchen this year? Then read on for some ideas on how to cook a turkey with the minimum of fuss…
1. If you are buying a fresh bird, make sure that you order it plucked and ready for stuffing. However, don’t be shy about also asking for the giblets as these can make a great stock for your turkey gravy.
2. If you have bought a frozen turkey, do make sure that you pay attention to what the wrapper says about the turkey’s defrosting times and conditions. Don’t be tempted to ‘hurry it along’ by putting it in a warm spot to defrost, or popping it into the oven when there are still ice crystals inside. A longer, steady defrosting period in the refrigerator is the best course of action, before washing thoroughly inside and out to check for ice crystals and to prepare for the oven.
3. Turkey is a great meat to have for special meals but after all the preparation, you’ll want to get a bit more out of it: both for the meal and for sandwiches and snacks later on. Allow 1 lb of bird per person when you are choosing your size of turkey and this should give you enough for tasty leftovers too!
4. Roast turkey is a traditional favorite for special meals at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter but it is not the only way of cooking turkey. Turkey fryers are now an increasingly popular option, not least because they can cook a 14lb turkey in little over an hour, making them very fuel and time efficient! You can still have your turkey stuffing, but cook it separately and serve on the side!
5. Turkey cooking times will vary according to many factors:
- Your preferred cooking method.
- Your fuel source.
- Whether you use a foil tent over the bird for the whole of the cooking time.
- Whether you are using a dark roasting pan or a shiny new one: dark pans will help the turkey to cook slightly more quickly.
- Whether you are using a roasting tin with a lid: this will speed up the cooking process.
- Whether you are cooking a pressed bird: this will take slightly longer to cook.
- Whether your oven is functioning well and cooks evenly across all shelf positions.
- Whether your turkey is stuffed or unstuffed: stuffed will take slightly longer so allow for timings to include the stuffed weight of the bird.
6. Because ovens do vary, make sure that you use checks other than time spent in the oven to ensure that the bird is fully cooked. Basic, easy checks to do in conjunction with each other are:
- Piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer, then squeeze slightly until juices run out: if the juices are clear, the turkey is cooked, if the juices look pink in any way, the turkey needs to be returned to the oven.
- Move the legs slightly (but be careful, this is a hot bird now)! If the legs give a little as if they could be ‘ripped off’, then the turkey is likely to be done.
Knowing how to cook a turkey safely and efficiently becomes easier with practice, so have a go throughout the year to perfect your technique and ensure a meal whose memory comes back to you for the right reasons!
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Filed under: Cooking Turkey
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