Few things instill as much anxiety in the hearts of home cooks as does cooking the traditional Thanksgiving bird. And in recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about different, supposedly better, ways of cooking Tom. Deep-frying, brine, smoking, barbecuing. Whatever. When it comes to Thanksgiving, we don’t mess with tradition, and that means roasting.
Here’s a super-simple way to roast a turkey. It will leave everyone satisfied. Especially you.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F Position an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Remove your turkey from the fridge and remove all the packaging, being sure to check the chest cavity for giblets and the neck. Rub the turkey with some salt and pepper, and pour two cups of broth or water into the roasting pan. Place it breast-side up on a roasting rack in a large pan.
- Place the turkey in the oven and turn down the heat to 350°F.
- Roast the turkey Plan on 13 minutes per pound, but start checking the temperature about halfway through the scheduled cooking time to see how it’s cooking.
- Baste the turkey every 45 minutes Remove the turkey from the oven, close the door and completely baste the turkey. Tilt the pan and use a turkey baster or spoon to scoop up the pan liquids and drizzle them on top of the turkey. You can also baste the turkey with melted butter or oil in the last 45 minutes or so of cooking to brown and crisp the skin.
- Take Tom’s temperature Begin checking the turkey’s temperature about halfway through your estimated cooking time. Put the thermometer in three places: the breast, outer thigh, and inside thigh; the meat should be at least 165°F in all locations when the turkey has finished cooking. If not, put the turkey back in the oven for 20 minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil to keep it from drying out.
- Rest before carving Grab one side of the roasting rack with an oven mitt and tilt the whole pan so the liquids inside the turkey cavity run out into the pan. Lift the whole turkey (still on the rack) and move it to a cutting board. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and let stand for at least half an hour. This allows the meat to firm up and the juices to be re-absorbed into the muscle tissue, making the turkey easier to carve and juicier to eat.
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