How To Cook Turkey: Don’t Be Clark Griswold
How to cook your perfect turkey somewhat depends on what you do BEFORE you pop it in the oven.
There is nothing better than a perfectly prepared turkey on Thanksgiving. Usually, I wait for the moment after everyone sits down and takes the first bite. If I hear a moment of silence, that’s usually good news. We nailed it again this year.
What that said, there’s nothing worse than facing a Clark Griswold turkey. To me, it ruins the day. I know that I may be petty. Thanksgiving is about being grateful. This is why I took over making the turkey each year. It was the only way I could almost guarantee a decent meal.
So I decided to share my tips on how to make a delicious turkey. Of course, these are just basic tips, that I have come up with over the years, through trial and error. Here we go!
While it costs more, I always go with Butterball. If you go frozen, I’d defrost in fridge on a plate starting the Sunday before TG, the latest. If you start defrosting TOO close, the inside may still be frozen by cooking day.
To make sure your turkey cooks evenly, let it sit on the counter for about an hour before cooking time. You want it room temperature so it cooks evenly. There is nothing worse than an overcooked outside, and an UNDERCOOKED inside. Make sure you wash it with cool water, and remove the giblets, which are usually in a plastic bag inside the turkey. I toss them. If you forget to remove them, don’t panic. The turkey producers understand that and make the plastic bag oven friendly. But it’s better if you remove the bag before you cook. I don’t use stuffing. Some folks throw a full orange into the cavity for some flavor. Here’s why I don’t need that.
How Can I Make A Moist Turkey?
What has worked for me, to make sure the turkey comes out cooked AND moist, is this: a flavor injector. You can buy it in any super market. Once you rinse the turkey, gently paper towel it off to take off any existing water. Then, wrap it snuggly with cellophane wrap, pulling the legs together enough to where the cellophane makes a nice, snug fit around the whole turkey.
The flavor injector is like a syringe. This is the magic secret. In four key areas, I inject a butter and herb mixture. The mixture consists of a LITTLE Mrs. Dash, a LITTLE garlic powder, and real melted butter. The key areas to inject are: Twice in both breasts, twice in both legs and that’s it. You want to inject the full syringe filled with the mixture. You will inject THROUGH the cellophane. The cellophane (for the most part) holds the mixture IN, so it won’t squirt back out. This way it can spread around evenly inside. Inject it slowly, or it may fill too soon and overflow under the cellophane. It’s ok for a little of the mixture to seep out. Once you are done injecting, gently pull off cellophane and discard it. If you have some remaining mixture you can drip a little on the outside. I don’t use ALOT of garlic powder or salt, because some of these turkeys come PRE-BRINED, which means they may already haven enough salt in them. The butter has salt too. You could use turkey or chicken broth as well, combine both butter with broth.
My rule it to pre-heat at 350. I cover the turkey in foil with a pretty tight seal, and cook it at 15 minutes per pound. So if you have a 10-12 pound turkey, it’s in for 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours. BUT, I check it every hour, for a little basting on the outside. Close the oven door fast! You don’t want to lose heat. For the last hour, I take foil off and monitor using the thermometer.
Make sure you get a GOOD digital thermometer and use the poultry cooking instructions for the proper temperature. I take it out around 160 to 165 degrees F. Even if you take it out at 160, it will still cook internally while it’s out on the stove top. I add a new layer of foil loosely to keep it warm when it’s out of the oven. I insert the thermometer at the point when the leg joint connects to, you know. Because my oven is new, I always end up pulling it out, a little before the projected end time. New ovens are very efficient and hold the heat in better. That last hour is key, and it must be watched.
If you do this right, you won’t need gravy! (Even though you want it!) That’s how to cook turkey, and NOT be a Clark Griswold! Good luck!