But not just any turkey, this is the MOST IMPORTANT single item on your Holiday table. Serve a "rare" under-cooked bird and you risk poisoning your entire family. Serve a bird that has been overcooked and you have something dry and painful to swallow. Either way, you will become the talk of generations to come.
OK, that's the bad news. the good news, a turkey may be the easiest item to cook on that holiday table. It's all in the timing, all in finding the correct temperature. You may see dozens of recipes with complicated Brines, loading the bird with "aromatics" (Onions, fennel, Apples, etc) and then spend only one sentence about serving a bird at the right temperature. Well my brothers and sisters of the order of the oven mitt, I am here to tell you that a bird cooked this way (simple and easy), cooked to the right temperature is FAR FAR better than that fancy brined bird cooked with those aromatics.
There are lots of ways to measure internal temperature for meat. Go ahead and pop for a thermometer. You will be amazed how often you use one once you pick one up. That beautiful medium rare look for steaks. Best way to insure that is with a remote probe. More to point, best way to get a sweet juicy beautiful turkey... Use that probe!
Here's a pretty good one to get you started... It is wireless so you can watch the parades, and is relatively inexpensive. As I am writing this, has 100% positive rating and Amazon ships free orders over $25...
Proper temperature of your bird is the single most important aspect to cooking a turkey. Far more important than organic or free range or any of the expensive key words. Buy a remote probe, not an expensive bird... More bang for your bucks.
Keep scrolling down, easy to follow recipe to follow.
The Basics - Easy DIY
- 1 Frozen Turkey
- 2 TBS Salt
- 2 TBS Pepper
- 1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Butter
- Optional - 1 Cup your favorite BBQ Sauce
- Optional - 2 Whole Lemons, each sliced into quarters
- You will also need
Instant Read Meat Thermometer, preferable with a remote probe
- Twine to tie legs together
- Buy a 12-15 pound turkey (no bigger). Note: Butterball is fine, but just a plain basic turkey works just as well.
- Thaw the turkey according to the chart shown above. Note: prefer the Refrigerator method, buy a few days ahead of time)
- Remove the neck and giblets from your turkey. Note: Some are in the hole in the neck, more are in the big hole in the back
- pat dry with paper towels, then let stand at room temperature, 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper.
Optional, slice the lemons into quarters and put them inside the bird(The big hole)
- Tie the legs together with twine. Place breast-side up in a roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Tent with foil and roast 2 hours for a 10-to-12-pound turkey; add an extra 15 minutes per pound for larger birds. Note: to tent the bird, pull out a sheet of aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the roasting pan. Make a fold lengthwise (so it looks like an old fashioned Boy Scout tent). Put this loosely over the bird, touching the actual bird as little as possible. This tenting will hold the moisture in so the bird will steam itself from the inside out, insuring a moist and tender bird.
- Measure the temperature of the bird. NOTE: Measure in several spots, the best spot is the thickest part of the thigh, where the thigh meets the breast, deep so you are measuring the center of the bird. You will need an instant read meat thermometer for this. Prefer one with a remote probe so you can monitor the temperature from the outside. When the bird reaches 155 degrees measured at the thickest part of the breast, as well as the thickest part of the thigh (continue to cook tented if temp is below 155, checking every 20 minutes),
When the tempis reached, Pull Bird out of the oven for a few minutes so you can brush on a coating of butter or BBQ Sauce. Brush coating the entire bird evenly. This is the part that turns that beautiful golden brown and delicious look. Work quickly, you do not want the bird out of the oven long.
- Increase the heat to 400 degrees F; roast until the thigh meat registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.
VERY IMPORTANT: Once the bird reaches 165 in the thickest part, the bird is done. If you have one of those pop out things, ignore it. Those are designed to pop out at 180 degrees, or once your bird is dried out.
- Let rest 30 minutes before carving. Note: Leave on the roasting rack, loosely tented. This gives the bird time to relax, allowing the juices to be reabsorbed into the bird, insuring a moist and tender bird. If you carve too early, most of the juices run out and the meat dries out quickly.
- Serve Warm and ENJOY,
NOTE: Be humble and gracious but do bask in the glow of your doubting family members!