5 Steps To The Perfect Turkey

Monday, September 27th, 2010

As the fall begins and summer is over our plans shift to the holiday season. With that in mind we want to begin thinking about creating the perfect center piece for those holiday meals: the roast turkey. By following a few simple keys and some pre-planning you can prepare the perfect roast turkey every time.

Step 1: Choosing the Bird

The rule of 1 lbs to 1.5 lbs per person should give you a good idea of what size turkey to buy. If you need something smaller there are legs, breasts, and drumsticks available on their own.  Choose a consciously grown bird, with plenty of room to run around and is not fed animal byproducts or antibiotics. Ensure the bird isn’t injected with sodium, and has no other additives, check the ingredient list. JD Farms in Aldergrove is a great place to get any of your turkey needs. They have plenty of information on their web site about how the turkey is raised and what they are fed and also have fresh birds available during the peak seasons and frozen birds available all the time.

Step 2: Brining the Bird

Brine is a salt water mixture that the turkey will be immersed in. There are many different variations for the brine and you can be creative with what you add. Brining adds moisture and flavour to the turkey and helps to keep it from drying out. You will need a container large enough to fit the turkey and have the brine completely cover the entire bird. If your fridge is not large enough you can use a large picnic cooler with several bags of ice, but if you choose this method, use a thermometer to ensure the temperature inside the cooler stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for proper food safe storage. You will want to brine the turkey for a minimum of 12 hours so plan to brine the bird the day before you will cook it. Before brining the turkey trim off any excess skin, remove any butchers twine or leg restraints, rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out, and pat it dry with paper towels. The basic ratio for a brine  is 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 gallon of water. Dissolve the salt and sugar in a small amount of water over the stove before adding it to the rest of the cold brine. Determining the amount of brine you will need will depend on the type of container you use and the size of the bird you purchased , we want to ensure that the bird is completely submerged.

Roasted Turkey
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Step 3: Roasting the Bird

Once the bird is removed from the brine you will want rinse it again and pat it dry with paper towel. Place some fresh herbs in the cavity and tie the legs together and tuck in the wings.  Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees .Place the turkey in a roasting pan breast side up and cover with foil, This helps keep the turkey from over browning. Place turkey in the oven and after the first hour or so remove the foil and baste the turkey with its juices.  For the cooking time allow approximately 15-20 minutes per pound. Purchase a meat thermometer for the most accurate way to tell when it is done.  Using the thermometer pierce the breast and remove from the oven when the temperature reads 160 degrees. Again cover with foil and let sit on the counter for at least 20 minutes before you carve it.

Step 4: Resting the Bird

Resting means letting sit at room temperature for a length of time before you cut it. This allows the muscle fibres to relax and res absorb the juices. This is a common step that is missed and is key in having a moist juicy turkey. Allow for at least 20 – 30 minutes of resting time. If you remember we pulled the turkey out of the oven at 160 degrees and by letting the turkey rest the residual heat inside the bird will continue to cook it until it reaches 165-170 degrees which is the perfect temperature for a juicy, moist turkey.

Step 5: Carving the Bird

Use a very sharp, thin bladed carving knife and find the joint between the thigh bone and the body. Slip the knife into the joint and remove it from the body. Separate the drumstick from the thigh using the same technique then run your knife along the bone; separate the meat from the thigh and drumstick, try to get as much as possible in one piece. Slice the leg and thigh meat into thin pieces. Slide your knife between the wing and the body and locate the joint, gently separate the wings from the body. Carve thin slices off one side of the breast, cutting parallel to the breast and repeat on the other side. Save the carcass for soup or stock.

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Contributor: Kristi Ferguson

Fraser Valley Pulse is the Fraser Valley's Neighbourhood Lifestyle Guide.

2 Responses to “5 Steps To The Perfect Turkey”

  1. Tania says:

    I’m so glad this was posted! Hosting a big thanksgiving dinner and I’ll definately need to refer to this! Thanks!

  2. I’m going to give this a try. I’ve cooked many turkeys over the years but have never tried brining one before I saw your tips Travis. I’ll let you know how it goes

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