How to Cook a Moist and Tender Whole Turkey

published by berbakat on Nov 17, 2010

First, ensure your turkey is thoroughly defrosted. For best results, take it out of the freezer a good 24 hours in advance. Check it often to ensure it’s thawing, but still cool. Should you require that extra push to further this process, simply soak your packaged turkey in cold water.

Presenting your guests with a turkey that literally falls away from the bone because it’s so moist and juicy isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. Put down the beer, ginger-ale, orange juice, and other freaky concoctions that people claim makes the best turkey. You don’t need anything fancy, just some chicken broth and a baster. Let’s get started.

First, ensure your turkey is thoroughly defrosted. For best results, take it out of the freezer a good 24 hours in advance. Check it often to ensure it’s thawing, but still cool. Should you require that extra push to further this process, simply soak your packaged turkey in cold water.

This next step involves preparing a mirepoix. This is where you prepare several vegetables that you will add to your liquid which will add more flavour to your turkey. These core vegetables include 1-2 large white onions that are chopped in quarters, approximately 4-6 peeled and halved carrots, and 4-6 halved celery stalks. Once cut and washed, set them aside.

Once your turkey is defrosted, you can go ahead and preheat your oven to 375F. Don’t place your turkey in your lightly greased roasting pan just yet however, you have some vegetables to cut up and we want to ensure your hands are sanitized. Make sure you have a good antibacterial soap handy and remember… don’t turn the dirty tap off with your clean hand. Please, use a paper towel.

Now you can go ahead and remove your turkey from it’s package. Depending on the brand, you may be required to rinse it with cool water. I say depending because some brands come preseasoned and stuffed. Next, place it in a large roasting pan. Ensure your hands are thoroughly washed before continuing. I know, it sounds tedious, but I can’t stress enough how imperative it is to wash your hands and prevent cross contamination of salmonella, a bacteria which, if entered into your digestive track, can cause serious illness.

Now, that your turkey is sitting nicely in the roasting pan sans neck and giblets (I have to add that part because the first time I made a turkey, I forgot to), you’re going to pour chicken broth on and around your turkey, filling up the pan a third of the way. Some people use water, you can, but think about it, when your turkey drips, it makes a poultry broth anyhow. Adding chicken broth is a simple “trick” that will add loads more flavour. Trust me, it works. Not to mention, the fat in the broth will create more moisture for your bird. Yes, there are low fat options that will still provide the same benefits.

Recap: your turkey is defrosted, your oven is preheated, your mirepoix is prepared, and voila!the hard part is over! No, I’m not lying to you, cutting your vegetables and removing the turkey from it’s packaging was the most work that goes into making a turkey. Yes, I promise. No, for real, I’m not lying. Let’s continue.

Next, using some plastic wrap or a baggie over your hand, you’re going to smear butter or margarine all over the turkey. Whatever you do, do NOT touch the turkey, then put that plastic wrap back into the butter to apply more. If you do have to use more, get a new baggie. After, begin to place your vegetables around the sides of the pan. Also, place an onion inside the turkey as it will release water/moisture when it cooks.

Put the lid on your pan, slide it in the oven, set your timer for 20 minutes, and then get yourself a drink and relax. You’ve worked hard cutting those vegetables. No one likes peeling carrots and you had to peel a bunch of them!

Now you’re going to add some seasonings (if you opted to get just a plain old turkey that didn’t come with this step already done for you). This is where you get to play chef because everyone has their own spin on how they think a turkey should taste. If you’re like me, you’ll tend to go with the standard: Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, and Poultry Seasoning. Remember to add these to your vegetables as well.

I hope that you’re still paying attention and haven’t gone off to relax just yet because this next step is the most important one in cooking a juicy turkey, well, next to ensuring your hands are clean. Once the timer goes off, carefully begin to baste your turkey. Basting is where you take the juices from the turkey (the chicken broth and drippings) and pour it over your turkey to help keep it moist. Remember to baste the inside of your turkey as well. You need to baste, and often… usually every 20-30 minutes until golden brown. You’ll know that your turkey is done when the legs pull away from the bone and are literally falling off. Just to be safe, check the packaging for cooking lengths as they do vary according to size.

Bon appetite and may your company be as good as your meal.


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