Fresh or Frozen?
- Before you buy the turkey, figure out your guest list. You should have 1 to 1½ pounds of turkey per person.
- Your next decision will be selecting between a frozen or fresh turkey.
- A fresh bird is more expensive, but will save you time and precious refrigerator space. Buy the bird the day before you wish to roast it, but remember to reserve your turkey with the butcher. Most grocers don’t keep a large stock of fresh birds on hand.
- You will need to plan ahead if buying a frozen bird as well: it can be catastrophic to find that the only turkey available for your intimate four-person dinner is a 26-pound glacial beast.
- A frozen turkey needs to be defrosted. The preferred method is to defrost it in the refrigerator. (Yes, the one filled with the rest of the holiday fare.) Allow one day per 5 pounds. A 15-pound turkey will require three days to defrost thoroughly.
- An alternate method is to defrost the bird in a cold water bath. Allow 30 minutes per pound. That 15-pound turkey will require only 7½ hours to defrost using this approach. It is also possible to use a combination of these methods.
How to Roast Your Turkey
To prepare the turkey for roasting, first remove the giblets! Not only is it disconcerting to find these paper-wrapped lumps when carving the bird, but you may also wish to use the giblets in your gravy or stuffing. Next, rinse the bird inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.
- If you are stuffing the bird, stuff it loosely, allowing about ½ to ¾ cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
- Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tie drumsticks together with string (for stuffed birds only).
- Lastly, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone.
- Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven. Use the following chart to estimate the time required for baking.
- Bake until the skin is a light golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting is not necessary, but helps promote even browning.
Weight of Bird
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