Thanksgiving is the only time I will make a whole turkey, otherwise I like to cook turkey breasts which are a lot easier and not so much waste. The presentation of a whole turkey and the delight on everyone’s face makes it worth doing at least once over the holidays.
- turkey, allow 2 lbs. per person plus extra for leftovers
- butter pats
- freshly ground salt and pepper
There are many different instructions on how to cook a turkey. Most of the turkeys that you can purchase have the directions on the wrapping. I would use the temperature and time suggested as guidelines.
In 2013 my turkey weighed 17.86 lbs. and I cooked it for about 4 hours at 350°F – perfect!
For instance, my 18.3 lb. turkey this year (2011) said to cook at 350°F for 10-15 minutes per pound (I calculated using 13 minutes per pound and it was done as estimated). Two years ago I cooked my 24 lb. turkey 15-17 minutes (I calculated using 15 minutes per pound and it was done an hour early). All ovens cook differently and turkeys are not the same in terms of fat and size and you have to allow for this difference and also go by past experiences. I always take notes when I make a turkey.
I remove the turkey from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes prior to roasting. Remove the neck and giblets and make broth. Slip butter pats under the skin of each breast, season the outside with salt and pepper. Roast as directed, or use your own recipe that has worked for you in the past.
I roast my turkey breast side down, covered with foil, for 2/3 of the cooking time. Turn the turkey over using plastic gloves, check the temperature and continue to cook ( no foil). Put the foil back on if the breast is browning too much. The breast should register 165 degrees and the leg should be 175 degrees.
Cover with foil and let rest for 30-60 minutes. I allow an hour so I can cook all of the side dishes. My new home has only one oven (I miss the double oven I had in my old home).
2011 turkey with my two nephews
Oops! I forgot to include my herbs in the garnish around the turkey. I picked sage, parsley and rosemary from my winter garden. It’s nice that some of the herbs I can still use even though the temperature is in the 20’s! The garnish could also use some red color but I forgot to buy some crimson apples.