Let out the Top Chef in You with These Simple Ways on How to Cook a Turkey – 2017 Edition (And 15 Best Turkey Recipes)

how to cook a turkey

Learning of the proper ways on how to cook a turkey is a great kitchen skill. And there is no wonder why. Cooking the bird has been a long-standing tradition in the world; in fact, people in the medieval times had been eating turkey at Christmas. During those centuries, large birds, including partridge, geese, and ducks were often the centerpieces at tables. And then later, the turkey was introduced during the Tudor times, and it soon became very popular as well.

However, perfection is sometimes hard to achieve, which is why some home cooks, instead of having a very good time, experience kitchen nightmares for not preparing it properly – and come up with a bland turkey taste. Worry not now, as you will learn of proper ways on how to cook the large fowl in your stainless steel cookware or any cookware you have in your kitchen.

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Ways To Cook Turkey​

1. Using An Oven

Using An Oven

Before you could make use of your home meat slicer in carving turkey meat into ideal slices, you should learn how to make use of your oven in cooking it. For this method, you might need to spend about four hours to get it done. So for this easy way, just gather your chosen ingredients to go with your meat to get started with the preparation.

  • Step 1: Mix your ingredients, which could include onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste and other choice spices.
  • Step 2: Sprinkle and rub these spices inside the cavity.
  • Step 3: Separate the skin from the breast meat and massage some of the spices under the bird's skin and then the remaining on the skin.
  • Step 4: Put your turkey in the tray and then cover it with a plastic wrap. Marinade, set aside and refrigerate overnight.
  • Step 5: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and place the rack in the lowest position.
  • Step 6: Get your turkey and let it achieve room temperature before tying and tucking the tips of the wings under.
  • Step 7: Put your turkey in a pan or anolon cookware. Put some olive oil and salt and pepper on its outside.
  • Step 8: Cook the bird in the oven for three hours or until the thickest, inside meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Step 9: When cooked, put it in a serving dish while being covered with foil.
  • Step 10: Before slicing, you should let the cooked meat rest for about 30 minutes.

2. Using An Electric Roaster

Using An Electric Roaster

Just like caramel sauce to prepare in multiple methods and so is a turkey. You can cook it in an electric roaster. If you have this appliance and looking to cook turkey for Thanksgiving, then you can make use of it for great-tasting roasted meat. Check out the following for ways on how you can cook it using your roaster.

  • Step 1: Take the pan out the roaster oven and preheat the appliance for up to 450 degrees.
  • Step 2: Sprinkle your meat with salt. Be sure to include the cavities, or stuff it with your choice ingredients. But see to it you're not pre-stuffing your meat. Instead, you should do it before roasting. Also, you may want to stuff the cavity with 2/4 cups of filling for every pound of meat.
  • Step 3: Rub your fowl with butter or olive oil. Massage the meat with any of your choice seasonings or spices. Finally, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Step 4: Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and avoid lifting the lid off, which will make moisture and flavor escape.
  • Step 5: Put the turkey in the insert pan on rack's top, but never add water to the nonstick cookware pan.
  • Step 6: Use high-temperature settings and roast for 30 minutes. All the seasonings, oil or butter and searing will make your turkey perfectly brown. Turn the oven's temperature down to 325 degrees.
  • Step 7: Using the roster oven, you don't have to baste the bird every 20 minutes or so, as you would normally do it in a traditional oven because the meat will self-baste in the roaster. With that said, you can save cooking time because you don't need to lift the lid while cooking unlike in traditional ovens.
  • Step 8: Check the temperature. The ideal temperature for the thigh is 180 and breast, and stuffing is 165. And then the juices should be clear and not pink.
  • Step 9: Take the bird out the oven, cover it foil and set it aside for 20 minutes so that it could seep the juices well. When done, start slicing it using steak knives to ensure perfect slices.

3. Using A Microwave Oven

Using A Microwave Oven

This innovative kitchen appliance is useful in cooking turkeys. In fact, even the USDA has agreed to say that the fowl can be cooked in this appliance either in parts or whole. But of course, you still have to look into cooking times and proper temperature. That's a general advice that applies to any method you're choosing in cooking the fowl.

  • Step 1: For one, you can cook the parts in a well-fitted copper cookware or dish with a lid. And then just cover it with a plastic wrap.
  • Step 2: Take note of the timings. However, they may vary from one microwave to another due to wattage differences; thus, read the maker's manual instructions for proper guidance.
  • Step 3: But for the most part, you can cook only up to 14 pounds of turkey can be fitted inside a microwave and cooking time can be up to 10 minutes per pound of meat using medium temperature.
  • Step 4: During cooking, you may have to toss the turkey to guarantee even cooking. Final note: It is not advisable to cook stuffed turkey in the microwave.
  • Step 5: Check the internal temperature of the cavity. It must be 180 degrees for the thigh and 165 degrees for the stuffing and breast.
  • Step 6: When done, take it out and set it aside for 20 minutes while being wrapped in foil to allow flavor and juice absorption.

4. Using A Stovetop Or An Induction Cooktop

Using A Stovetop Or An Induction Cooktop

Now if you don't have an oven or a microwave oven, you can still cook the bird – on your stovetop (or in a large electric skillet). But for this method, we will focus on how to prepare it on a stovetop. You can cook it in a large covered pot but then with some liquid at the bottom. The technique is called braising, which can make flavorful and moist meat at the same time an excellent sauce to use for making gravy later. The stovetop method is a quick and hassle-free way of cooking a turkey for any occasion.

  • Step 1: Thaw the bird in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  • Step 2: And on the side, you can heat the vegetables using a large pot or a Dutch oven to hold the bird. Supposed you're using carrots, onions, and celery in your recipe, sauté until they are lightly brown.
  • Step 3: Have the turkey sitting on top of the vegetables before adding liquid.
  • Step 4: Boil it and then simmer. Cover your pot.
  • Step 5: Simmer the bird gently. Make sure that you're checking the liquid's level every 30 minutes. Lower the heat if it is boiling to avoid the sauce from spilling.
  • Step 6: When the liquid drops below one inch, you should add some more to avoid drying it out without you even noticing.
  • Step 7: When you have reached the two-hour mark in cooking, yon should test the meat. Testing is necessary to ensure that you won't overcook it, just like when you want firm vegetable spaghetti using a veggetti.
  • Step 8: When you have reached the two-hour mark in cooking, yon should test the meat. Use a thermometer to check the correct temperature, which should be 165 degrees F for the thigh's thickest part. Continue cooking of it is below this temperature.
  • Step 9: Every 15 minutes, check your meat for the correct temperature and see if it is already 165 degrees. Cooking might take up to four hours.
  • Step 10: When cooked, set the meat aside for 20 minutes before slicing it.

Additional tip: Wash the thermometer you used earlier. It might have picked up bacteria from the undone meat. Wash it with soap and water and then dry it before using it again to check the temperature.

If you don't have a pot with lid, you can use one without but then make use of an aluminum foil to cover the ceramic cookware or pot. Tightly seal it to the sides. You might have to check the liquid from time to time as it will boil and might dry up faster using the pot and aluminum foil.​


5. Using The Pellet Smoker

This pellet barbecue smokers method also lets you cook a sumptuous turkey. You can make use of a ceramic charcoal grill or pellet smoker to complete this process. So whether you are cooking for an occasion or home gathering, you can prepare this turkey outdoors and have the rich flavor of real wood smoke.

  • Step 1: Preheat the grill for up to 350 degrees F.
  • Step 2: Remove the giblets and the neck but do not throw them away. Then, rinse your turkey and dry it with paper towels.
  • Step 3: You should rub your meat with a mesquite rub if you choose this ingredient.
  • Step 4: Combine the other ingredients, including the smoked paprika and softened butter to make a paste. You should insert your had in between the breast meat and the outer skin and then rub the mixture inside the meat pocket.
  • Step 5: Position the turkey with its breast side up. Then, you put it in the middle of the grid, and then you should smoke for up to 15 minutes for each pound of meat.
  • Step 6: Check the internal temperature ad it should be at 170 degrees F in the thigh's thickest part.
  • Step 7: When cooked, you can take the turkey out and then cover it with foil for up to ten minutes so that it will seep through the flavor from the juice.
  • Step 8: Slice it and then serve with your choice gravy, sauce or mashed potatoes.

Additional notes: If your turkey isn't pre-brined, you should brine it. You should put it in the cooler half filled with cold water. You should then put two cups of salt as well as ice and then let your turkey in the cooler overnight before cooking it the next day. Plus, do not put the turkey directly on the grill but put it in a large foil pan. Be sure to set the temperature at 325 degrees F and not lower than it because a lower temperature will make the skin tough.

You should wrap the turkey in foil if you do not have much time for cooking. Finally, you may also use the propane smoker if you don't have a pellet smoker.​


6. Using A Convection Oven

Using A Convection Oven

Deciding how to cook your meat is hard, just like it is when preparing a spaghetti squash. But if you have a convection oven, then cooking won't be hard. Using a convection oven, you can even spend lesser time because the air will be continuously circulated to penetrate the turkey from the outside to the inside. Here is how you cook it in the convection.

  • Step 1: Remove the skin from the breast using a sharp knife.
  • Step 2: Combine your ingredients in a small bowl. You should rub the seasoning into the bird's meat under its skin, and then do the same on the skin.
  • Step 3: Put the sage leaves and onions in the large turkey cavity, if you have chosen such herbs for your fowl. Alternatively, you can also season your meat a day before cooking to improve its flavor.
  • Step 4: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Step 5: Put the turkey on rack two and in a shallow pan. You should leave the bird's legs swing free. It will cook faster in the convection oven, leaving the legs swing-free will let the heat penetrate the thickest parts of the body and the thigh.
  • Step 6: If your oven comes with a meat probe, insert it into the thickest part of the meat. Program the probe to 170 degrees as well as set the oven's timer for 20 minutes.
  • Step 7: Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees after 20 minutes if your oven 30 and 36 inches, or 350 degrees for a smaller unit between 24 and 24 inches.
  • Step 8: When the meat has reached 170 degrees, take it out the oven, put it in the counter for 20 minutes and cover it with foil. You should do it to prevent the juices from leeching out due to the pan's heat.
  • Step 9: Capture the juices before carving and make gravy later.

Additional notes: You don't need to turn or baste when using the convection oven. Cooking time is also shorter than using a conventional oven.

Bonus Tricks

Bonus Tricks

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Thanks to JamieOliver.com for sharing these tips!​

 1

You should choose the right size. For example, there should be at least a pound for every person or guest. You may also want to figure a bit less because there is more meat in proportion to the bone for a larger turkey, which is at least 16 pounds.

Thanks to Fine Cooking editors for sharing this advice!​

 2

Allow yourself more time to thaw the bird. You should thaw it in the fridge for a day, but that will be for every five pounds of turkey meat. Sometimes, it should take longer than this time, especially if you're preparing large birds of 15 pounds in weight. You can also thaw the meat with a cold water bath in which water you need to change every 30 minutes.

Thanks to Kelli Foster for the excellent advice!​

 3

Do not go overboard with the stuffing because too much of fat like that from the butter will make your meat greasy.

Thanks to Stephanie J. Stiavetti for the tips!​

 4

Pro Tips From Other Bloggers

Pro Tips from Other Bloggers
goodhousekeeping

Contributor Susan Westmoreland said that turkey meat is a bit bland, so it needs help from aromatics and herbs to become tasty. For example, you may want to use a few sprigs of thyme and sage as well as orange or lemon that you have to pierce in the meat for a couple of times for its cavity.


today.com

Contributor Debbie Koenig said that you should choose your roasting pan. You must go to heavy that will not buckle under the bird's weight as well as choose dark roasting pan so that it can absorb the oven's heat as well as create richer drippings to make as gravy later. The tips are from Rick Rodgers, who is the author of the Thanksgiving 101 cookbook.


forbes-logo

Bruce Y. Lee, a contributor to the site, said that you should not eat the turkey raw as well as you should wash your hands often if you touched the raw turkey. Check out the full list of tips on the site and learn how to cook the bird safely.


cookingchanneltv

I found this site useful regarding tips in cooking the bird. For example, you should choose the right turkey. It revealed that heritage turkeys are leggier and leaner as well as they provide a more flavorful meat, but they are more expensive than traditional breeds. Check out the source for the entire list of tips and advice when it comes to cooking the bird.

Correcting Common Problems

Correcting Common Problems

How do I cook brined meat?

You should cook brined meats in the bake or roast mode so that it can absorb moisture. On the other hand, cooking brined meat in the convection might retain moisture and make meat slightly soggy.

How many days will it take to thaw frozen turkeys?​

It will take at least three days.

How can I keep its crispy skin?​

Don't start your oven at a too high temperature or else you will burn the skin while undercooking the meat. Keep a steady and moderate temperature. After all, you can also make use of dry brining for crispy skin.

When should I cook it?​

Avoid cooking too early even if you need a few hours to have it done. For example, you don't need to cook it in the oven in the morning if your dinner is at 5 pm. The average cooking time is 15 minutes per pound of meat, and at a temperature of 350 degrees F. For the most part, you need to leave three to five hours for cooking and resting time of 20 minutes before carving.

How do I check the correct temperature?​

You should use meat thermometers to check its internal temperature to ensure it is fully cooked. It should be cooked when it reached 165 degrees F in the thigh's thickest part.​

Best Turkey Recipes​

#1. Perfect Roast Turkey from Food Network

Perfect Roast Turkey from Food Network

Check out this excellent recipe that I tried myself. It highlights quick and easy ways on how to come up with the perfect roasted turkey. I think you really should get the recipe on the site now!

#2. Turkey Chili from All Recipes

Turkey Chili from All Recipes

Give your turkey a new twist by trying this chili recipe made even more wonderful by turkey meat. It makes use of canned and fresh ingredients, so you won't have a hard time finding them at all. Go to the site and check the entire list of ingredients and instructions.

#3. Turkey Risotto from Jamie Oliver

Turkey Risotto from Jamie Oliver

This recipe is one of the best risottos that I have ever tried. If you want a new twist on your turkey recipe, or perhaps you want to turn leftovers into a new dish, then this one is an excellent idea. Check out the website for the entire list of ingredients and instructions.

#4. Asian-Style Turkey Rissoles from Taste.com.au

Asian-Style Turkey Rissoles from Taste.com.au

Are you looking for great turkey recipe ideas? I found this one a vibrant twist to what we already know! Head over to the site and see how to prepare this quick using some simple ingredients.

#5. Pasta with Turkey and Broccoli from Real Simple

Pasta with Turkey and Broccoli from Real Simple

This recipe is interesting and easy to make especially for healthy eaters. You can just sauté ground turkey in olive oil and then follow the remaining ingredients and instructions to come up with a satisfying dish.

#6. Brined Whole Turkey from Betty Crocker

Brined Whole Turkey from Betty Crocker

Check out how to brine the whole turkey that will make 14 servings and total cooking time of 12 hours and 30 minutes. For the entire list of ingredients and steps, you can check out the site to brine whole turkey now!

Conclusion

There you have our guide on how to cook a turkey. There are many methods to choose from to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving or any occasions. Also, take note of the common problems to avoid, tips from bloggers and bonus tricks for the best results as possible. Share this guide with friends looking for ways on how to prepare turkey as well. Finally, enjoy cooking and come up with the best turkey recipe today!

Resources and Further Reading:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/486413-how-to-cook-a-turkey-on-a-stove-top/​

http://www.louisiana-grills.com/whole-smoked-turkey.html​

http://www.purcellmurray.com/blog/index.php/article/108​

http://howtobbqright.com/blog/?p=1877​

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/oven-roasted-turkey-recipe​

http://www.food.com/recipe/perfect-turkey-in-an-electric-roaster-oven-339453​

http://www.butterball.com/how-tos/roast-a-turkey​

http://gizmodo.com/5098734/how-to-safely-microwave-a-turkey​

http://www.livestrong.com/article/486413-how-to-cook-a-turkey-on-a-stove-top/​

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