How to cook a perfect Thanksgiving turkey

If you are anything like me when it comes time to cook a turkey, you’re ready to fake being sick! I have single handedly ruined Thanksgiving dinner many, many times with my kitchen adventures. Why? Because I always over or under cook the thing. How it hurts to say… mine always turn out too dry. But not anymore!

Slow Roasted Turkey

Slow Roasted Turkey

Finally after years of trial and error, I found a way to make the perfect turkey and I am going to share it with you!

Before we get to it though, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when preparing a turkey.

First, make sure your turkey is COMPLETELY thawed out. Running cold water over it, or letting it sit out on the counter to thaw can cause bacterial growth and contamination.

The proper way to thaw your bird is to place it on a pan in the fridge. Don’t remove the wrapper.

It will take anywhere from several days up to a week, to thaw your turkey depending on it’s weight.

Time required to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator:

8 to 12 lbs. 2 to 3 Days
13 to 16 lbs. 3 to 4 Days
17 to 20 lbs. 4 to 5 Days
21 to 24 lbs. 5 to 6 Days

Once the bird is thawed, you want to be sure to remove the giblets and neck and all that stuff out of your bird. Clean it thoroughly, and pat dry.

Now its ready to prepare for cooking.

First preheat your oven to 475° and make sure the temperature is accurate. If it’s not accurate, your bird won’t cook properly. \

Next, melt some margarine, you just need enough to coat the turkey breast, I use about half a stick.

Here’s my secret for juicyness – separate the skin from the breast. Don’t don’t remove it. You should be able to get your hand between the skin and the breast meat. Rub your melted margarine on the turkey breast meat under the skin. You don’t need or want to put butter on the skin – trust me.

You want to sprinkle the skin generously with fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns. This is what makes the skin really crispy.

Now, stick your bird in a baking pan – there’s no need to buy a fancy roasting pan. (I can’t use one anyway because my oven is really small, and a giant roasting pan just won’t fit.) Place it breast side up, and cover it lightly with a piece of foil.

Calculate your cooking time.

To calculate cook time, first, you’ll need to know your turkey’s weight. Remember, you removed the neck and giblets.

Basically you’ll cook your turkey for 20 minutes on 475° then turn down the oven to 250° and cook it for 20 minutes per pound. So, a 16 lb turkey would cook at 250° for an additional 320 minutes or about 5 and a half hours. No basting is necessary, but I like to do it a few times during cooking, anyway.

To be absolutely sure that your turkey is thoroughly cooked, use a meat thermometer. The breast meat should be 170°F and 180°F for thigh meat. When it’s done, take your turkey out of the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes, uncovered, before carving it. Then… enjoy! You’ll find that your turkey is super juicy and succulent, and everyone will want to know your secret!

If you make your turkey this way, I would love to hear from you… be sure to comment below.