Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For many of us college students, this is the first time that we’re cooking a turkey on our own. Though it may seem daunting at first, but I’ve compiled all the steps needed to effortlessly create a delicious oven-roasted turkey for you.
Oven-roasting a turkey surely has its advantages. You don’t need to buy any additional equipment, well besides the turkey itself and a pan. Plus, you’ll be able to make gravy from the leftover juices. (#SpoonTip: try this one pot gravy and roasted turkey.)
And oven-roasting a turkey typically requires less attention than frying a turkey, meaning that you’ll be able to cook all your other Thanksgiving dishes at the same time, like these bite-sized pies.
1. Thaw the Turkey
Let that baby thaw out. If you bought a frozen turkey, which most of us do, you need to let it thaw in a refrigerator for 24 hours per every five pounds of turkey. The USDA recommends thawing your turkey in an area where the temperatures are constant (it's best not to leave it on your back porch or in the basement).
#SpoonTip: If you’re reading this the night before and they’re T-minus 12 hours until dinner time, don’t fear. You can place your turkey in a cold water bath and change the water every 30 or so minutes until it’s fully thawed. The USDA recommends giving the cold bath an hour per every two pounds.
2. Brine the Turkey
Brining is the process of soaking a turkey in a salty solution. Now this step is completely optional. It’s a matter of your own preference. Keep in mind, if you have a kosher or self-basted turkey, you do not need to brine it, it’s already been salted. Find your favorite brine recipe online, either a dry or wet brine, and follow the steps thoroughly.
#SpoonTip: Turkey doesn't need to be the only thing you brine this Thanksgiving, try making your own miniature pickles.
3. Stuffing the Turkey
Much like brining the turkey, stuffing the turkey is again a matter of your own preference. By oven-roasting your turkey you’re able to cook your turkey with the stuffing inside (something you can’t do by other methods such as deep-frying) If you really want to be ahead of the game, you can make the stuffing up to 4 days before and stuff the turkey right before it goes into the oven.
#SpoonTip: Stuffing expands when it cooks, so stuff the turkey loosely.
4. Cooking the Turkey
The moment you’ve all been waiting for, cooking the turkey.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. While waiting for the oven to preheat you should fill your roasting pan with with either 2 cups water or oil, balls in your court.
Then place the turkey in the oven and turn down the heat to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Place an oven-safe thermometer into the turkey. As a general rule, it takes about 13 minutes to cook each pound of turkey.
5. Basting the Turkey
Basting the turkey allows for the surface of the turkey to cool, slowing down cooking, ensuring that your turkey is cooked more evenly. You should try to baste the turkey about every 45 minutes.
To do so, take the turkey out of the oven (be careful not to let the heat out) and tilt the pan. With the pan titled, take your turkey baster and squeeze up all the pan liquids and drizzle them back over the turkey.
6. Checking the Temperature
About halfway through the cooking time, start keeping an eye on the oven-safe thermometer which you originally had placed inside the turkey. You want to check the temperature in three locations on the turkey: the breast, and the inner and outer thighs. When your turkey is finished cooking the temperature should be at least 165 degrees fahrenheit in all three locations.
Keep in mind that if you had chosen to stuff the turkey, the stuffing should also be at least 165 degrees fahrenheit. So what do you do when the turkey finishes cooking before the stuffing (this happens a lot, actually)?
Take the turkey out of the oven, put the stuffing in a separate pan and continue to cook the stuffing until it reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit. If you leave the turkey cooking until both reach 165 degrees, you're going to end up with an overcooked dinner.
7. Carving the Turkey
Don't worry, you're almost there. Once the turkey is done cooking, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it cool for at least 30 minutes. In order to carve the turkey, remove the wings, then the thighs, then the breast meat. This BuzzFeed video gives a great tutorial.