Cooking School

10 tips for the best roast turkey ever

By: Leah Kuhne

Roast Turkey With Nutty Stuffing</br>Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media Author: Canadian Living Credits: Roast Turkey With Nutty Stuffing</br>Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media

Cooking School

10 tips for the best roast turkey ever

By: Leah Kuhne

1. Remember to thaw: If the turkey is frozen, it will take at least a few days to thaw in the fridge. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.

2. Use a large roasting pan: The roasting pan should be large enough that the turkey does not touch the sides and ideally should have a few inches of room around it.
This helps for better air flow and even cooking. Just make sure the pan (and turkey) actually fits in your oven.

3. Don't stuff: Filling the turkey cavity with stuffing increases the cooking time, which can lead to a dryer bird. Besides, my favourite part of the stuffing is the crispy bits, which you can only get if the stuffing bakes separate from the bird.
Pop the "stuffing" into a casserole dish and into the oven while the turkey is resting. Click here for downloadable information on turkey roasting times.

4. Don't tie your turkey: Tying the turkey is just a waste of your valuable time.
Tying the legs together (or going all out and trussing the whole bird – tying snugly with kitchen twine so the wings and legs stay close to the body) does make for a nice presentation, but it increases cooking time. We suggest leaving the legs as is, and tucking the wings under the breast so they don't burn.

5. 325°F all the way: 325°F is the perfect temperature for roasting a turkey. It's not too hot that the bird will burn before it's done, and not too cool that the turkey takes forever. Some recipes start at a higher temperature and then reduce to 300 or 325°F, but if you don't get the timing right, the turkey might get too dark. 
Cooking at 325°F the whole time yields a nicely browned and still juicy turkey.

6. Baste often: Basting the turkey while roasting helps to develop a nice overall colour as well as keeps it juicy. We recommend basting every 30 or 45 minutes. Use a turkey baster to suck of the juices from the pan (or use a pastry brush or spoon) and drizzle the juices over the top of the turkey. Sometimes the juices can accumulate in the cavity of the turkey. Carefully tip the turkey so the juices run out and there is something to baste with.

7. Tent with foil: If the turkey is getting too browned before it's cooked, cover loosely with a piece of foil. This will limit the browning while the turkey continues cooking.

8. Use a thermometer: Just because the turkey looks cooked, doesn't mean it is cooked. The only way of ensuring it's done is to use a thermometer. We like a digital instant-read thermometer because it gives the most accurate reading. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, if it reads 170°F, then the bird is cooked.

9. Let it rest: Once the turkey comes out of the oven, let it rest on the counter, loosely covered in foil for at least 30 minutes. This will let the juices redistribute and cool the turkey down a bit so it is not too hot to eat. Also, this gives to time to finish the side dishes and make the gravy. Just be sure to add the resting to the total time and time everything accordingly.

10. Carve in the kitchen: Although a beautifully presented bird brought to the dining table is the idealized picture of Thanksgiving, I always carve the turkey in the kitchen. Carving a turkey can be a messy job. Doing it in the kitchen means less mess, and less stress at the dining table. Start by removing the legs and thighs (remove the bone and cut up the thigh meat), cut away each breast from the bone and slice.

Check out these tips on how to have the best Thanksgiving ever.

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Cooking School

10 tips for the best roast turkey ever

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