Turkey 101

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Bird blueprint

Awkward, memorable and lots of opinionated relatives. It's not your first date -- it's your first turkey! Don't let veteran roasters intimidate you. The real turkey test is much easier than you think ...

Tools - Turkey, butter, seasoning, stuffing, stock, roasting pan and rack, skewers, oven thermometer, meat thermometer or pop-up timer, bulb baster, carving knife and fork

1 - Plan on one pound of turkey per person. To defrost a frozen bird, put it in the refrigerator -- it will take 24 hours per five pounds to completely thaw. Fresh turkey should be cooked within one or two days of purchase.

2 - Estimate how long it will take to cook your turkey based on its weight. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Eight to 12 pounds needs about 3 to 3 1/2 hours to roast.

3 - Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey, usually stored in a paper wrapping in the main and neck cavities.

4 - Thoroughly wash the turkey with cold running water, and pat it dry with paper towels.

5 - Place stuffing in the main cavity and the neck cavity. Don't overstuff the bird; it will expand while it cooks.

6 - Pull the long flap of skin over the opening and secure with skewers.

7 - Generously rub softened butter or brush melted butter onto the skin of the turkey. Also season if desired. Make some basting stock with seasoning and four cups of water.

8 - Position the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack in the pan. Pull the wings back under the turkey so the tips touch. You can tie them back if the weight of the turkey doesn't hold them down. Tuck the legs under the flap of skin at the tail.

9 - Tightly cover the breast area with foil to keep it moist. In the last hour remove the foil to brown the skin.

10 - Pour in two cups of stock in the bottom of the roasting pan and put it in the oven. Baste the turkey every 30 to 40 minutes; lift the foil to baste underneath.

11 - When your bird is thoroughly cooked, take it out of the oven and let it stand breast-side up for 20 minutes before carving.

12 - Remove the stuffing; take out the skewers and any ties. Now you're ready to carve.

-- The Associated Press

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