Prepare the perfect turkey

You might be surprised at the number of ways that people have to cook a turkey. You would not think that there were as many options available as there are, but like nearly every other food dish, everyone has their own idea on what works best for them. Most people do not cook turkey except during Thanksgiving or perhaps Christmas, but turkey can be a sensible, healthful alternative at any time.

Leftovers are versatile and may be used in soups, sandwiches or a turkey pot pie. There is no wrong or right way to cook a turkey; as long as the turkey is fully cooked and properly handled, it will most likely be fine. Here are some guidelines on how to cook a turkey.

To get started you will need:
  • Fresh or frozen Turkey (thawed)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Stuffing (if desired)
  • Deep roasting pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
Tips and tricks pre-cooking

Remember to thoroughly clean the turkey. Remove all of the giblets, neck and organs from the cavities and wash thoroughly in cold water. Be sure that before and after you handle a raw turkey that you wash your hands in hot water; always practice safe food handling procedures.

To thaw a turkey, the preferred method would be in the refrigerator. Soaking the turkey in cold water (with the wrapper on) is also an acceptable method. Never allow the turkey to soak in warm or hot water.

Preparation for cooking

After you have thoroughly cleaned the turkey, it is time to prepare it for the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) while you are preparing the turkey.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels (and discard immediately) and place into a roasting tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray (will help prevent sticking).

Carefully pull back the skin on the sides of the turkey breast.  Take the stick of butter and cut it into four (4) long slices. Carefully push the slices of butter up under the breast skin.  This will help add vital moisture (and flavor) to the turkey.

If you have elected to stuff your turkey, prepare your favorite stuffing recipe and stuff the cavity of the turkey and then truss the legs. Trussing may be done with metal trusses or with twine.  Spray a sufficiently large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the roasting tin tightly. Place in preheated oven.

Cooking times and browning

If you have stuffed your turkey you should cook it for 25 minutes per pound.  20 minutes per pound is sufficient for turkey you have not stuffed. If you are using a meat thermometer, you should test at the thickest part of the thigh. Many turkeys today come with "pop up" timers that eliminate this step.

When there is about 30 minute remaining in cooking time, remove the aluminum foil from the top of the turkey to allow the turkey to brown. This method should not require any basting and you should have sufficient drippings to make turkey gravy.

Cooking a perfect turkey does not have to be a complicated process. This simple-to-follow method of cooking a turkey will produce a perfectly cooked, moist turkey each time. When you cook a turkey, you should allow it to "rest" for approximately 20 minutes before slicing.