Turkey Roasting Tips
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Article: Turkey Roasting Tips

resources: wikipedia - thefreedictionary - 

Both fresh and frozen turkeys are used for cooking; as with most foods, fresh turkeys are generally preferred, although they cost more. Around holiday seasons, high demand for fresh turkeys often makes them difficult to purchase without ordering in advance. For the frozen variety, the large size of the turkeys typically used for consumption makes defrosting them a major endeavor: a typically sized turkey will take several days to properly defrost.

Turkeys are usually baked or roasted in an oven for several hours, often while the cook prepares the remainder of the meal. Sometimes, a turkey is brined before roasting to enhance flavor and moisture content. Brining makes it possible to fully cook the dark meat without drying the breast meat. Turkeys are sometimes decorated with turkey frills prior to serving.
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Safe cooking

"When cooking a whole turkey, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh without touching bone. The internal temperature should reach a minimum of 165 °F. For optimum safety and uniform doneness, it is recommended to cook stuffing outside the bird. If stuffing the bird, the center of the stuffing must reach 165 °F (74 °C). Turkey breast should reach 165 °F (77 °C). Drumsticks, thighs and wings should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 165 °F . However, uniform temperature is difficult to obtain due to location and thickness of the meat. There are many techniques, good and bad, which will create a safe, moist, and delicious bird throughout."

Consult the following information for safe turkey cooking directions.

Roasting a turkey

"There are many of recipes for stuffing: chestnut, sage and onion (flavored bread), and sausage are the most traditional. It is the conventional "wisdom" of the modern day that the body cavity should not be stuffed, as it will prolong cooking time a great deal and "dry out the bird"."

"Contrary to this opinion, it is possible to stuff a turkey without prolonging cooking time or drying out the bird. The stuffing must be fully cooked, piping hot (In addition to increasing cooking time, uncooked stuffing--especially sausage--presents a health risk.), and quite moist. Likewise, one must not pack the bird's cavity tight with stuffing. Instead, it should be loosely spooned in. One can stuff both the "main cavity" of the bird and the volume between the skin and the breast to some extent, although the latter will impart stuffing flavor to the breast meat, and some diners may object."

"Making a separate dish of the stuffing is of course easier, both for cooking and at the table, and avoids getting turkey innards mixed into the stuffing."

"Another preparation method is to brine or marinate the turkey overnight. Brining with a low to moderate amount of salt in enough water can result in just the right amount of water entering the meat. Too little salt can result in the meat being too watery while too much salt can actually dehydrate the meat."

"Some people like to place herbs with or without an onion or an orange in the body cavity to provide flavor."

"Turkeys have a large breast which can become dry if overcooked. There are several ways to prevent this, though consider that some guests may enjoy the chewiness."

"One method is to make a 'tent' out of aluminum foil. The breast should be covered in butter or a cooking oil (olive oil will work) and the bird should be completely wrapped in the foil that is sealed loosely at the top to include an air space. This allows the bird to very mildly brown while steaming in its own juices. Alternatively, one can cook the bird at a high temperature for a short time (30 minutes) and then only cover the breast and body with foil, leaving the dark meat uncovered, reduce heat, and continue roasting. It is 'strongly' recommended that the cook pre-fit the foil "breastplate" and have it set aside for use 'before' starting the roasting, as this is far less likely to result in singed fingers. Some people like to lay streaky bacon over the breast--a practice known as larding--to keep it moist and add flavor."

"For single-temperature roasting, the oven should be set to medium (gas mark 4 180°C/350°F). The cooking time depends on the size of the bird. Approximate times are given in the table below."

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Weight of Turkey      Approximate cooking time
10-12 lb (4.5-5.5 kg) 3 hours
12-14 lb (5.5-6.5 kg) 3 hours and 30 mins
14-16 lb (6.5-7.5 kg) 4 hours
16-18 lb (7.5-8 kg)    4 hours and 15 mins
18-20 lb (8-9 kg)       4 hours and 30 mins
20-22 lb (9-10 kg)     4 hours and 45 mins
22-24 lb (10-11 kg)   5 hours
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The best way to tell if a turkey is cooked is to test it.
  • "To test with a skewer: Insert a skewer or a long thin knife into the part
  •  of the turkey where the thigh joins the body. If the turkey is cooked, the 
  • juices will run clear. If there is any blood in the juices, the turkey is not 
  • yet thoroughly cooked."
  • "To test with a thermometer: Insert a turkey thermometer into the thigh. 
  • The turkey is not cooked until the thigh has reached a temperature of 
  • 185°F. Alternatively, a remote probe thermometer can be inserted into 
  • the bird before it goes into the oven, permitting constant monitoring of 
  • temperature without opening the oven door."

Double-temperature cooking (pre-browning) starts at 400 °F for 30 minutes, 
followed by putting on the foil "breastplate" and finishing roasting at 300 °F. 
This method requires thermometer testing for doneness.

The Brown bag (grocery bag) Roasting

" (noted below) has been a popular method of cooking meats in the past but due to the changes in the current methods of making grocery bags, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, the glue and ink on brown bags are not intended for use as cooking materials and may give off harmful fumes. In addition, brown bags are usually made from recycled materials nowadays and are not sanitary. Thankfully there are alternate cooking materials that give comparative results sold at your local grocery, such as aluminum cooking foil, and turkey sized oven-cooking bags at a reasonable cost. Do remember when using the aluminum foil and oven-cooking bag methods there is no need to grease the areas not coming in direct contact to the turkey."

"Brown Bag (grocery bag) Roasting" is a fool-proof method for perfectly roasting a moist, golden-brown turkey (any size; stuffed or unstuffed) in about 3 to 3.5 hours. Simply place the completely thawed and rinsed bird (you may season and/or stuff the bird as you desire, or leave unseasoned and unstuffed) into a thoroughly greased paper bag, like those from the grocery. To prepare the bag, rub grease, or Crisco, to completely coat the inside of a heavy brown paper bag evenly, but not heavily, until it saturates through to the outside of the bag. Then, touch up the outside of the bag where the grease had not made its way. This prevents the bag from burning and creates a sealed, steamy environment. NOTE: Leave no part of the paper bag ungreased as it may catch fire. Seal the opening of the bag by folding it over and staple it shut along the entire length of the fold. Place the bagged turkey into the bottom half of a roasting pan and into a pre-heated oven. Bake at 500 °F for the first hour, then reduce the oven's temperature to 400 °F for the second hour, then down to 300 °F for the final hour. Thermometer test the bird after the third hour for doneness."
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Turkey & Spices go great together!

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The times given are
only approximate
Photo source: Roasted Turkey Ready to eat! "A Thanksgiving turkey that had been soaked for 10 hours in a brine of water, salt, brown sugar, cut and squeezed lemons and oranges, and chopped onion. Roasted in the oven in a roasting pan, for nearly 4 hours." Photo Source: Author TheKohser - "The tricky thing about cooking poultry is that the dark meat needs to be about 15 degrees hotter than the white meat." 
see roasted brined turkey recipe
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