Whisk's Turkey Tips

What size turkey do I get? 

We often like to think that the best part of turkey dinner are the leftovers! We recommend to count on 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds of meat for each person.  Smaller turkeys (under 12 lbs) have a high bone to meat ratio so you may want to go closer to 2 pounds per person.

What should I cook my turkey in?

You want to roast your turkey on a wire rack in an open sturdy roasting pan. We’ve got one to fit each budget and size of turkey. Using the rack allows you to collect all the turkey drippings to use for gravy later. 

To stuff, or not to stuff? 

Personally we love a good stuffed bird, though some feel that stuffing the bird can slow the cooking time and potentially dry the white meat out before the stuffing is fully cooked. What is key is that you test the temperature of the stuffing the same way you would the meat of the turkey. Like turkey, it should reach at least 165 degrees before it’s done. Be sure to leave a small air gap in the cavity to prevent any possible bacterial growth. 

Instead of stuffing the turkey your alternative is to make “dressing”. Dressing is simply stuffing cooked in a casserole dish separate from the bird. You may want to add more stock to make sure it doesn’t dry out, but both the turkey and the dressing will cook faster and more evenly than cooking the stuffing inside the turkey. 

How do I get a perfectly juicy bird? 

There are several ways to ensure that your turkey is perfectly moist. 

Brining is a popular way to do this. In a brining bag resting in a roasting pan, place your turkey and your brine. A basic turkey brine should have a ratio of about two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water. Some recipes include sweeteners or acidic ingredients to balance the saltiness, and you can add any herbs and spices you like. 

Dry brining is less messy and produces slightly crispier skin since the turkey isn’t absorbing excess liquid. Just rub a very generous amount of coarse kosher salt (along with any finely ground herbs or spices if desired) all over the skin of the turkey and inside the cavity. Let the turkey rest in a roasting pan from anywhere between 12 hours and 3 days in the refrigerator. 

Basting your turkey ensures a crisp skin and moist meat. There are many tools you can use for basting, from basting spoons to traditional turkey basters. 

Roasting your turkey breast side down for the first 2/3 of cooking time will ensure the dark meat and the light meat cook evenly and the breast meat stays moist and tender. Just use turkey lifters or cover oven mitts in ziplock bags to flip the turkey breast side up for the last 1/3 of the cooking time so it’s crisp, golden and beautiful. 

You want to allow your turkey to rest after removing it from the oven before carving. This will ensure the hot juices are reabsorbed into the meat and don’t drain from (and dry out) the meat when sliced. Depending on the size of your bird, it’s best to let it rest for 25 to 45 minutes. 

How long do I cook my turkey? 

If you buy a frozen turkey make sure you allow a few days in the refrigerator for it to thaw before cooking. 

For unstuffed, defrosted turkeys we like to use the following guide. These times are based on a roasting temperature of 400F for the first 45 minutes, and 325F for the rest of the cooking time. 

0 - 12 pounds 2 ½  – 3 hours

12 – 14 pounds 2 ¾ - 3 ¼ hours

14 – 16 pounds 3 – 3 ¾ hours

16 – 18 pounds 3 ¼ - 4 hours

18 – 20 pounds 3 ½ - 4 ¼ hours

20+ pounds 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours

For stuffed turkeys, be sure to stuff just before the turkey goes into the oven. Truss up the cavities (we have cooking twine and trussing needles) and you’re good to go. For ease of removing the stuffing, you can make a pouch with cheesecloth or use a stuffing bag. Fill it with stuffing, insert it into the bird, and just pull it out before carving! Add at least 30 minutes to the estimated cooking time for a stuffed bird.

To know for sure when your turkey is done, pop-up turkey timers are a handy tool. We also offer a range of meat thermometers that can be used for all your roasts & chickens throughout the years. The turkey is done when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) at the thigh.

After the meal

Remove all the meat from the turkey before you refrigerate the leftovers. You can also use the carcass to make a delicious stock or soup. Using the stock is also a great way to make sure the leftover meat doesn’t dry out when reheated. Pour a bit of it into a pan, place the meat directly over it, and put the pan into the oven until the meat is warm. If you don’t have time, or are too tired from all that food, you can wrap the carcass up in foil and put it in the freezer to make stock at a later time. 

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