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Chef Tips To Holiday Turkey

Holiday Chef Turkey Tips

Steven Pennington
If you're not sure how to cook a turkey, here are some handy tips that will make your holiday dinner great! 
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Course Main Course

Ingredients
 

  • Turkey (14 pounds or less) 1

Instructions
 

TURKEY DONENESS TEMPERATURE

  • White Meat - Done @ 158 internal temp
    Dark Meat    -Done @ 170 internal temp

HOW TO GET CRISPY TURKEY SKIN

  • Make sure the turkey skin is very dry before adding any butter or olive oil. 
    This is KEY to getting crispy, beautifully cooked turkey skin and the desired beautiful golden brown color. 
    Wet skin only steams in the oven #nocolor
    Use a paper towel to pat the skin dry. If the turkey sits on the counter before you begin buttering, be sure to pat the turkey dry once again. I cannot understate the importance of this holiday turkey RULE

KEY TO MOIST TURKEY

  • Add butter under the skin with your hands to keep the turkey juicy and moist. The turkey skin is very tough and doesn't tear easily.

SECRET TURKEY COOKING TIP

  • Soak cheesecloth in melted butter and drape it over the top of the turkey breast. Set the oven temperature starting at 450 degrees, after about 20 to 30 minutes. Keep basting with butter or seasoned butter.
    You cannot beat clarified butter due to it having no milk solids. The milk solids can burn and leave spots all over the turkey skin.
    Visit our post covering How To Make Clarified Butter
    After 30 minutes, turn the temperature down to 325 and roast for another 30 minutes. Then remove the cheesecloth and continue roasting until done.

HOW TO FRY A TURKEY

  •  If frying the turkey, 
    TURKEY WARNING !!! (Be very careful that your turkey is completely 100% thawed and patted dry, or expect an oil explosion to occur. Major fire could break out. 
    Oil and Water Do NOT MIXFry a Turkey (3 - 4 minutes a pound @ 360 degrees). Use Peanut Oil, or at worst, use canola. Vegetable oil is bland and has no flavor, not the right oil for frying a turkey.

WHAT TO DO AFTER THE TURKEY COOKS

  • Once the turkey comes out of the oven or fryer, the turkey needs to rest 40 minutes to an hour. This will ensure the turkey stays moist after slicing.
    The turkey comes out of the oven/fryer piping hot. The turkey is screaming with hot steam on the inside and wants to escape. If you slice into the turkey too early you risk forcing the turkey to become dry.

TURKEY TEMPERATURE

  • Never try to cook a turkey straight out of the refrigerator. #toocold
    Turkey needs to be at room temperature before cooking. If you skip this step, the turkey will not cook evenly and the middle of the turkey will be extra pink and raw.
    Place the turkey on your counter for one hour before cooking. Possibly long for large turkeys.

HOW BIG OF A TURKEY TO BUY?

  • Large turkeys, over 16 pounds, become gamey and tough. Shop for labels that state young turkeys.

TYPE OF TURKEY TO BUY

  • Stay away from turkeys that do not state clearly, minimally processed & antibiotic-free.

BUYING A TURKEY

  • Turkeys that are priced over $40 aren't better; they just cost more to raise. It's a scam and I'm sorry to say that. But, so what if a turkey grew up eating bugs and acorns. Sure we could break down the animals' diets and what is best and how it can affect the taste, but it does not deserve the cost of $80+ for a turkey.

BRINE THE TURKEY, OR NOT?

  • Turkey and chicken alike come with up to, legally, 19% brine solution. Yes, you are paying for water per pound of turkey or chicken.
    Desiding when to brine a turkey should be about the flavor/recipe, not just adding moisture. You add moisture by allowing the turkey to rest for 1 hour.

DO WHAT RESTAURANTS DO

  • Use a Dry Brine. #CrispySkin
    Dry Brining is the use of salt, seasoned with other herbs and spices, even citrus peels.
    THE TURKEY BRINING PROCESS: Pack seasoned salt all around the turkey in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. (see photo - that's a chicken by the way). This will pull out the waters from the skin and promote extra crispy skin. The next day, rinse the salt off the turkey. Pat the skin dry.Place the turkey on a roasting rack, uncovered, then back into the refrigerator. This will air chill the turkey skin.

THE SALT

  • Turkey is one of the few proteins that require a lot of salt. Add a little more than you might think.

TO BASTE, OR NOT TO BASTE?

  • Basting adds moisture to the skin. You will never get crispy turkey skin basting. Using the cheesecloth tip above, once you remove the cheesecloth STOP basting the turkey and allow the skin to crisp up.

Notes

DO YOU HAVE ANY TURKEY COOKING TIPS TO SHARE?

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Keyword Holiday Chef Turkey Tips
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