Turkeys are by far the biggest challenge of any Thanksgiving meal. In addition to wanting it to be juicy and flavorful, you truly prefer it not to take all day to roast. Fortunately, you can have it all. (Yep, I said it!)
Follow these tips and recipe to cook the best bird you’ll ever have.
Tip 1: Cook a turkey that weighs no more than 14 pounds.
It’s just science. The bigger the bird, the longer it takes to roast, which means there’s a higher likelihood of drying out the meat. Instead, purchase a turkey that weighs no more than 14 pounds. Personally, I like 12 pounds because you can cook it in 90 minutes. Yes, it’s possible with my recipe! Anything beyond 14 pounds, you should consider roasting two turkeys for the best and juiciest results.
Tip 2: Match your aromatics to your brine.
Sometimes it’s tough to know what ingredients to fill your bird with. I say to skip the stuffing and stick with aromatics. If using a pre-packaged brine, take a peek at the ingredients. From there, find spices and fresh produce that match the contents to stuff your turkey with. It’s a good way to impart delicious flavors that will always match your brine.
Tip 3: Tuck the wings.
Make sure you can savor every part of the turkey by not forgetting simple things like tucking the wings underneath the bird. This will keep the wings from cooking too quickly and burning.
Tip 4: Dry, oil and lightly season the skin.
A crispy skin begins with taking a paper towel and removing as much moisture as possible from the skin of your turkey. Thereafter, use a good olive oil to coat the entire bird and season with a simple mix of salt and pepper. It’s all you need to cook up a flavorful and crispy exterior.
Tip 5: Seal in the juices.
Always cook your turkey on the highest temperature possible for the first 30 minutes. This quickly roasts the outside of the turkey, creating a seal that keeps in all the juices. Then, lower the temperature to finish cooking your turkey. My recipe will give you the exact temperatures and timing, so there’s no need to guess.
Tip 6: Don’t let it brown too quickly.
If using the 30-minute roasting rule outlined in my recipe, you will need to keep an eye on browning. It will happen fast. Before it gets too much color (a shade lighter than what you want), loosely tent it with foil and continue to roast as directed in the instructions. This ensures your bird is the exact color you want it the end and still achieves that delicious crispy skin.
Tip 7: Avoid the thermometer.
To clarify, don’t pay attention to the thermometer that comes with the bird. You know, the plastic one that pops up to tell you your turkey is done. By the time it pops, your bird will likely be very dry. Instead, remove your turkey from the oven when it reaches 161 °F on a meat thermometer. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.
Tip 8: Speaking of, let the bird rest.
Don’t allow the juices go to waste by making a rookie move and carving your turkey right when it comes out of the oven. Allow your bird to sit on the roasting rack for at least 15 minutes under a loose foil tent. After that, feel free to carve your bird for the juiciest meat.
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 12