Cooking the perfect turkey once a year is a daunting task. We asked our chefs to impart some of their gastronomic wisdom upon us. Here’s what they came up with…
The Brining Debate
A Classic Brine
If you have space in your refrigerator and a sanitary container that can hold a 12-20lb bird, brining can be a great way to achieve the moist meat you’re looking for.
Brine your turkey overnight (1 gallon water: 1 cup of salt: ½ cup sugar). The amount of brining solution needed will depend on the size of your bird. Make sure all of the skin of your bird is covered in brine and adjust the ratios accordingly.
Brining Made Simple
For many people, brining is a daunting and difficult task in a home kitchen.
If brining overnight is not an option, liberally sprinkle both sides of your turkey with a coarse, pure salt like kosher or sea salt, and rub it in. Feel free to add freshly chopped herbs and garlic to the mixture for extra flavor. Cover and let it rest on a plate in the fridge for an hour. Rinse the meat well, dry and proceed with your original recipe. (Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)
General Turkey Tips
Don’t trust the red popper that comes in your turkey- invest in an instant read thermometer.
Stuffing your turkey can draw our moisture- consider baking your stuffing (or dressing) on the side in a separate dish.
A Guide to Defrosting Your Turkey*
6-8lb turkey – 18-24 hours in the fridge – 4-6 hours in cold water
10-12lb turkey – 24-36 hours in fridge – 8-12 hours in cold water
14-18lb turkey – 36+ hours in fridge – 12-16 hours in cold water
18+ lb turkey – 48+ hours in fridge – 18+ hours in cold water
A Guide to Roasting Your Turkey*
All of these times are approximate. Your turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh reads 155-165.
8-12lb turkey – 2 ¾ to 3 hours unstuffed – 3-3 1/2 hours stuffed
12-14lb turkey – 3 to 3 ¾ hours unstuffed – 3 1/2-4 hours stuffed
14-18lb turkey – 3 ¾ to 4 1/4 hours unstuffed – 4 – 4 ¼ hours stuffed
20-24lb turkey – 4 ½ to 5 hours unstuff ed – 4 ¾ to 5 1/4 hours stuffed
24-30lb turkey – 5 to 5 ¼ hours unstuffed – 5 ¼ to 6 ¼ hours stuffed
Let the turkey rest at least ½ hour in a tin foil tent before serving.