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Tom turkey troubleshooting: Turkey cooking techniques

November 13, 2012

There are a myriad of ways to cook that Tom turkey for Thanksgiving. And they’re not all in the oven either. You can brave the elements and attempt to burn down your garage and/or house with the deep-fry method. There’s even one that involves a trash can. The people that employ this technique say that they get different flavors depending on the type of grass they cook on. Seriously? Sure hope they’re not cooking over some fertilizer …

This year, like the years before, I will be using my oven. It’s in my house, I can control the temp, and I’m familiar with it. That could be classified as being a pussy for not trying something new, but I don’t have the time to try a different technique before the big day. So, yeah, excuses aside, I’m a pussy. Here are a few recipes that use your trusty oven:

  • Homestyle Turkey, the Michigander Way. This recipe hails from the general web site allrecipes.com. I’ve tried this recipe and it’s pretty awesome. The chicken stock lends its flavor and moisture to the turkey. Because of this recipe, I always cover my bird tightly with foil and put some liquid in the bottom of my roasting pan.
  • Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast. Ina Garten is one of my fave chefs because her recipes are easy, they have ingredients I don’t have to special order and they come out great every time. This one is great for a small crowd and reduces the skill level of carving to noobian proportions.
  • Asian Rubbed Thanksgiving Turkey. Asian as in the spices that are rubbed into the bird are Asian. No Asian masseuse required for this recipe. I thought it would be nice to include a recipe for those that are wanting to try something a little different this year, but don’t want to stray too far from tradition. The recipe has Sriracha in it. You can’t go wrong.

If the turkey you will be cooking is frozen, the best question you could ask is: “How long does this guy take to defrost?” Refer to the USDA’s safe thawing times and find your turkey’s weight and estimated time to thaw. The average sized turkey used in the United States is approximately 12 lbs. That size will take you 3 days to thaw out in the fridge. Cold water thawing will take 6 hours, so make sure you have enough time to get that bird defrosted. I recommend planning ahead a little, since the bird is safe completely thawed in the fridge for 1-2 days.

The next best question would be: “What temperature does my thermometer need to read before it’s safe to take the turkey out?” Many recipes give different temperatures. As a cook, you need to know that white and dark meat’s temperatures are different. You also need to know that, and this goes for anything that you put in the oven, even though you have taken it out of the oven, it’s still cooking. Breast is done at 165 degrees and dark meat is done at 180 degrees. Be sure to let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes, covered with foil, before cutting into it.

Are you unsure where you are supposed to check the temperature? Since you can’t check it by sticking a thermometer into its mouth, I’d suggest looking at thermometer placement on Butterball’s how-to page.

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From → Holiday cooking

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