How to Cook a Turkey

Featured Article, Food, Hometown Cooking
on November 10, 2012

If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a turkey. While this larger bird may seem intimidating, it's really not hard at all. Follow these simple methods, and you’ll never wonder how to cook a turkey again. Enjoy!

Select the best quality bird. The final product is only as good as the quality of the ingredients. In the case of a roasted or fried turkey, the turkey is the highlight and main ingredient. Select a quality organic, free-range fresh bird if possible, or, alternatively, a quality frozen turkey is also great. Be sure to defrost it thoroughly before beginning. The best method is in the refrigerator. Note: It may take a couple days to defrost this way, but you don’t risk harboring unhealthy bacteria.

Roasting. Once the bird is defrosted, remove the bag of innards from the cavity and rinse and salt the bird liberally. Set your oven to 400 degrees and let it come to temperature. While the oven heats, place your bird breast side up in a large roasting pan. It could take up to six hours for a large bird to roast. You don’t need to do anything to get a tasty bird, but if you like, mix butter, herbs, salt and pepper and slather the skin thoroughly. Cook your turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast but not touching bone reads 180 degrees.

Frying. A simple way to fry a turkey is to place the turkey in the fryer, add water to the top of the turkey, remove turkey and measure the amount of water needed to cover the turkey. That will be the same amount of oil needed to fry the turkey. Once bird is prepared, cleaned and dried, rub the turkey with seasonings like salt, pepper and garlic powder. Let the bird rest while the oil in the fryer comes to 350 degrees. Carefully lower the turkey into the oil until fully submerged. According to Paula Deen of the Food Network, fry for three minutes a pound, plus five minutes. A 10-pound turkey will take 35 minutes.

Let the bird sit before carving to redistribute juices.