We are getting a lot of turkey cooking questions as we head towards "Turkey Day 2012". So, here are some basics to keep in mind. For more tips and ideas, listen to the show-Saturdays, 2-3PM Pacific Time on FM News 101.1 KXL and The Radio NW Network.
1) Brining a turkey improves it's flavor and moistness. IF you brine, be sure to RINSE the turkey after brining in cold, running water. Otherwise the meat will be too salty.
2) "How long does it take?" Use the standard rule of thumb---20 minutes per pound @ 350F. If you're roasting at 250F, figure 30-40 minutes per pound. If smoking, 60 minutes per pound.
3) You are better cooking 2 medium sized turkeys, rather than one monster bird. It won't take as long to cook, and generally the meat will be more tender.
4) Do not stuff the bird with dressing. It doesn't get hot enough quick enough to kill off food bourne bacteria. You're better off cooking the stuffing alongs...
ide the turkey.
5) Always start cooking your turkey earlier than you expect. This gives you some wiggle room in case you need more cooking time to get the bird to the correct internal temperature. If the bird is done early, kick the grill into Smoke and hold it at that temp. Or wrap in foil, place in a picnic cooler and cover with newspaper. It will stay hot for 3+ hours.
6) The correct internal cooking temps are 180 for the thigh or 170 for the breast. Make sure your meat probe does not hit any bone. Insert it into the deepest part of the meat.
7) Canola oil produces a better appearance than olive oil (imho).
8) For best results, smoke first, cook second. (imho).
9) You can sprtiz, baste, mop as you desire.
10) To capture drippings for gravy, place the bird on a vertical roasting rack, then set in a pan. This elevates the bird for even cooking, and allows you to capture drippings. Place about a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the roasting pan so the juices don't burn or evaporate