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How to Make Perfect Roast Turkey

It’s one thing to roast a turkey, but it’s a whole different thing to make perfect roast turkey. Anyone who has had only a little experience in roasting a whole turkey will admit to this, and anyone who has had decent experience will also tell you that they had to get over a few bumps before getting their technique down.

Turkey Tips

Perfect Roast Turkey

Roast turkey experts will have their own versions of how to do it exactly, but I believe that there is no one technique that will work for everyone. After all, each cook has his own habits, his own tools, and his own preferences. All that one can really do is take a look at what the experts have to say and pick out the things that will work personally.

Here are some of the best tips you can find to help you make the perfect roast turkey.

Choosing the turkey

Your perfect roast turkey starts with the bird itself. It makes total sense as what you ultimately serve on the table will only be limited by the raw material that you use – the turkey. It is thus critical that you know how to look at the quality of the turkey that you are buying. Sure, you might be tempted by the discounts and sales, but even if you end up buying discounted poultry, you can still check for quality. The bottom line: buy the highest quality product that you can with your budget.

So how do you know if a turkey is of high quality? Here’s a quick check list.

  • The bird should have a good shape, with a full-fleshed breast.
  • The skin of the turkey should be creamy white or slightly yellow, which is a little waxy to the touch.
  • The skin should be intact all over, with no scratches or tears.
  • There should be no pin feathers left on the bird.
  • The legs and wings should not be broken.

This is not to say that if the poultry has some pin feathers left, it is not fit for eating. However, if you want only the best, the criteria above is a great way to ensure that you get the highest quality turkey for Thanksgiving.

Preparing the turkey

Drying Turkey

Preparing Turkey

The perfect roast turkey relies as much on the preparation as on the quality of the bird. After all, even if you purchase the most expensive turkey you find, if you do not prepare it properly, you might not end up with the best tasting turkey possible. Here are some tips to follow to ensure that you prepare the turkey the right way.

  • Don’t rush the thawing process. Depending on the size of the bird, it can take anywhere from a day to four days to completely thaw it inside the fridge.
  • Leave the turkey out in room temperature for about an hour or so before putting it in the oven. This way, the meat will not be chilled when placed in the oven.
  • Make sure that you dry the turkey thoroughly before placing it on the roasting pan. Paper towels are perfect for this task.
  • Season your turkey evenly and thoroughly. Inside, outside, on the skin, under the skin – whatever seasoning you decide to use, make sure to use it liberally.
  • Do NOT stuff the turkey way ahead of time. Instead, do this right before you put the turkey in the oven. One other thing – go easy on the stuffing. You might love stuffing like nothing else, but it does expand during the roasting process, so it’s best to stuff the turkey lightly.
  • Consider using softened (or seasoned) butter and applying it under the skin and around the thigh areas. This will add more flavor to the turkey, as well as maintain moistness and juiciness.

Cooking the turkey

The actual cooking process is just as “complicated” as anything could be. Different people have different opinions regarding factors such as temperature and cook time. Try out these tried and tested tips to help you ensure that you get a perfect roast turkey.

  • The general consensus seems to be starting out at 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Some prefer starting out at 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit then going down to 325-350 after 30 minutes or so.
  • To estimate the cook time, give it 15-20 minutes per pound (of turkey).
  • To be sure that the turkey is done all the way through, use a thermometer! When the thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part – the thigh – then it is ready. (Some prefer the temperature to be 180 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • Cook the turkey at the same temperature all the way. This will ensure that the meat is still tender and juicy and that the skin is crispy and dark brown.

Presenting the turkey

Roast Turkey Tips

Perfect Roast Turkey

So you have the perfect roast turkey. Don’t think your task is done, though! While you might have done everything from buying to preparing to roasting perfectly, you also have to present that awesome turkey exactly right. You might as well go the distance after all the work you’ve done!

Patience is the key! You might be raring to cut into that perfect roast turkey, but things will be so much better if you let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. The reason for this is that the 20 minutes will allow the juices to seep back into the meat. In the meantime, you can do last minute touch ups for the appetizers and side dishes.

Make sure you have a nice pan or platter to hold your perfect roast turkey. While you may be content with a shabby pan, just think of how scrumptious it will look on a really nice pan!

Now all that is left to do is for everyone to enjoy your perfect roast turkey!

Roast Turkey Recipes

At the end of the day, you will make your roast turkey the way you prefer it. After all, everyone has different preferences. If you are looking for some roast turkey recipes, we are here to point the way. Here are some recipes to help you in your quest for the perfect roast turkey.

Photos via cobalt123, rklau, The Daily Meal

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