Lesson: Cooking a Turkey
Turkey is one of the most popular holiday main dishes. It can be served at any holiday gathering including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, and Easter. It’s the dish that everyone looks forward to all year long. So, you better learn how to do it right, damnit.
Even someone as useless as you can make a perfectly cooked turkey! So, just relax! The turkey that’s drier than grandma’s nether regions is a thing of the past if you just follow these five basic rules. Go forth with confidence! Armed with my wisdom, you will inevitably achieve a moist and delicious bird that the family will be talking about for years to come. However, remember that if you screw up, it’s all your damn fault. It certainly wasn’t anything I told you to do.
Before you roast the turkey, you need to buy one that is appropriate for the number of guests you will be expecting. Don’t be a stupid idiot and run out of meat. If you do, you will feel more out of place than Santa Claus in Israel on Christmas Eve. So when you buy a turkey, the general rule is to purchase 1-2 lbs per person if you are serving only turkey. If you have another main dish option like I always like to have, you can get away with 1 lb per person. If you are having 30 people, don’t go out and try to find a 45 lb bird. First of all, they don’t exist, and secondly, you will have to start cooking it on Labor Day for it to be cooked all the way through. Get two birds, and use your common sense, damnit.
SEE THE LINKS TO ALL OF OUR THANKSGIVING COOKING LESSONS BELOW
1. DON’T STUFF THE TURKEY!
So, when it comes to actually cooking the damn thing, here is the number one rule you have to remember. I am sure you have heard this before. You may not believe it, and you may choose to ignore it, but we are pretty damn serious when we say…don’t stuff the turkey, [email protected]! The Turkey Shouldn’t Be Stuffed. DID I MENTION NOT TO STUFF THE DAMN TURKEY?
Here’s why: When it’s cooked inside the turkey, the stuffing doesn’t cook evenly, and it doesn’t get all nice and crispy. Also, it takes longer to cook the stuffing to an appropriate temperature and by this time, you will have gone and burnt the sh!t out of your turkey and it will be drier than a lesbian’s chapped lips. Just cook the stuffing separately and spoon it into the cavity or a separate dish when you are ready to serve it.
2. SEASON THE TURKEY INSIDE, OUTSIDE AND UNDER THE SKIN
No matter what herbs and spices you decide to use, the best way to get tasty turkey is to generously season it everywhere possible. Remember to get everywhere and use enough seasoning. Listen, a 20-lb turkey is not a chicken breast and a teaspoon of salt and pepper sprinkled over the top is not gonna cut it. You’re gonna have to get a little dirty. Deal with it.
Generously rub salt and pepper inside the cavity, along with whatever other herbs and spices you’re using. Don’t be afraid to really violate that bird and double fist the fowl. Show it who’s boss and get all up inside it.
In this next step, we want to be a little more tender and seductive. Gently push seasoned butter or olive oil under the skin of the breast, and around the thighs. You can use a thin silicon spatula, but I like to really show the bird some respect and use my bare hands to gently massage the meat. This not only flavors the turkey, but also helps keep it moist and juicy.
Lastly, give it a nice rub down before you send it packing into a hot oven. Rub the outside skin of the turkey with butter or oil, and season with salt and pepper.
By taking care of these three flavor areas, you are gonna get one flavorful mother clucker.
3. TIE IT UP AND COVER IT’S BREASTESES
A properly trussed turkey will go a long way to ensure a successful roasting, and result in a very attractive bird. These three steps are fast and easy, and make a huge difference. So don’t skip em.
Pull the wing tips forward and tuck them under the breasts so they don’t burn. This also keeps the turkey sitting nice and straight.
Tie the legs together with kitchen string. This important step will ensure even cooking, and a beautifully shaped turkey.
Loosely cover the breasts with a piece of foil. This will help keep the turkey moist, and prevent the breast from getting too brown. Remove the foil for the last hour of roasting to brown the skin.
4. COOK LOW AND SLOW IN A MOIST, AROMATIC OVEN
When you control the humidity, and the aromatics in the oven, you help to keep the mother clucker moist and flavorful as well.
Most meats cook better when they are at room temperature. So leave it out for about an hour before roasting to warm the bird up. To help infuse flavor, cut some veggies up and lay them on the bottom of the roasting pan. Cut two carrots, three to four stalks of celery, and an onion into large chunks. Place on the bottom of your roasting pan and place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the vegetables.
In order to keep the oven moist, add about a half-inch of equal parts stock (or broth) and white wine to the roasting pan. During the cooking process, you can use this liquid to baste the turkey. There will always be a debate about what basting the turkey actually does, but, [email protected]% it. Basting once an hour and once every half hour in the last hour of cooking, makes me happy and it makes the birdie’s skin look so nice. I love how it glistens in the light of the oven. Also, the vegetables and liquid combo make for an awesome gravy later on. For some amazing gravies, check out the “Turkey Gravies & Cranberry Sauces” section of the recipes.
Start with the oven at 400 degrees for about 10- 15 minutes to help sear the meat. Then lower the heat to 325 degrees, for approximately 15-20 minutes per pound. Remember to take the foil off the breast in the last hour of cooking.
The most accurate way to make sure the turkey is done is with a meat thermometer. So make sure you get one, damnit! The turkey should register 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh meat. Here is an approximate cooking time guide for roasting at 325 degrees, so you know when you should begin to take it’s temperature:
|8 to 12 lbs.||2.75 to 3 hrs.|
|12 to 14 lbs.||3 to 3.75 hrs.|
|14 to 18 lbs.||3.75 to 4.25 hrs.|
|18 to 20 lbs.||4.25 to 4.5 hrs.|
|20 to 24 lbs.||4.5 to 5 hrs.|
5. GIVE IT A DAMN Rest!
Now, if you’ve followed my instructions to the “T,” then that there piping hot turkey is gonna be the juiciest [email protected]%er you ever did sink your teeth into. BUT WAIT!!!! There’s more. YOU MUST let the turkey rest for AT LEAST 20 minutes before carving. First, make sure you cover it loosely with some foil. Then you can go take a dump or rub one out while you wait, but don’t you dare let me see you poking that bird (with a knife) for another 20 minutes. Don’t worry your pretty little brain, it ain’t gonna get cold. A covered 20-lb turkey will stay hot for over 40 minutes, so don’t rush it.
Leaving the turkey (or any meat for that matter) to rest not only gives you time to finish the gravy and the rest of the meal, but it allows the juices in the turkey to redistribute.
And that, my friend is the secret to moist, tender meat, every damn time. So, that’s how you make a perfect turkey. Good luck with that.
Our Newest and Hilarious Holiday Video
If you’re choosing to be a lazy [email protected] this, year and want to simply open up a can of gravy, or as I like to call it “Horsesh!t in a Can” you might want to check out our NEW & HILARIOUS Video: Get Me In The Kitchen to Make Canned Gravy Taste Like Homemade
Hostess Gifts, Secret Santa & Stocking Stuffers
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For more information on Carve The Turkey, [email protected] and our other cookbooks and gourmet spice blends, visit the [email protected] Store.
Now you have everything you need. Go forth Kitchen [email protected]! Go forth and make the best damn Thanksgiving the world has ever witnessed.
Thanksgiving [email protected] Cooking Lesson: Don’t [email protected]% it Up! The 3 Most Common Thanksgiving Mistakes
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