Honey brown, crisp skin with meat that's tender and juicy.
That's a cook's goal for the holiday bird.
At Thanksgiving a myriad of turkey techniques and methods are suggested.
There's the roasted turkey. Grilled or fried turkey. Turkey in a bag.
Turkey with the back cut out and flattened -- it cooks in half the time.
But in the Free Press Test Kitchen, we are set in our ways. Our recommended method is brining (wet or dry) and roasting or grilling. Brining gets the juices flowing, and we know it works.
We also like grilling (on a kettle-style grill) because it frees up much-needed oven space.
Brining recipes increasingly use different liquids and seasonings other than the basic salt water solution or plain salt. Wet brines can include fruit juices, ciders, beer and wine and can be seasoned with sugars (white or brown), aromatics, herbs and spices. Dry brines can include other seasonings and herbs along with the salt.
Our turkey recipe today uses orange juice in the brine. Read on for the details.
More Details: Basic guidelines for cooking your turkey
Here are food safety tips from the Free Press Test Kitchen and the USDA:
--Thaw the turkey if frozen. If you haven't yet taken it out of the freezer, do it today. Thaw it in its orginal package on a tray. Allow almost 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 12- to 16-pound turkey will take 3 to 4 days to thaw in the refrigerator.
--If you forgot to thaw your turkey in advance, place it in a sink in its orginal wrapper and fill with cold water. Change water every 30 minutes. A 12- to 16-pound turkey will take 6 to 8 hours.
--The USDA does not recommend rinsing or washing your turkey first, which is a step in many recipes. The splashing water can contaminate other nearby foods and utensils.
--Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered the safe cooking temperature for the overall turkey to 165 degrees.
--Invest in an instant-read thermometer. Make sure the thermometer you have is working properly.
To roast your turkey, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan. Below are the USDA's recommended roasting times for a stuffed or unstuffed turkey.
Unstuffed and Stuffed
(approximate cooking times in hours)
8 to 12 (lbs) (unstuffed) 2 3/4 to 3 (stuffed) 3 to 3 1/2
12 to 14 (lbs) (unstuffed) 3 to 3 3/4 (stuffed) 3 1/2 to 4
14 to 18 (lbs) (unstuffed) 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 (stuffed) 4 to 4 1/4
18 to 20 (lbs) (unstuffed) 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 (stuffed) 4 1/4 to 4 3/4
20 to 24 (lbs) (unstuffed) 4 1/2 to 5 (stuffed) 4 3/4 to 5 1/4
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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