Thanksgiving or Christmas Turkey How To Cook

In short – Cook your Turkey by this calculation:  20 minutes per pound with the understanding you’re NOT cooking a Turkey with stuffing

The LONG VERSION AND IMPORTANT RULES TO FOLLOW: 

  • Number One Rule : Never ever cook a Turkey from the frozen state.
  • Reason :  Your turkey will cook on the outside but will be in the DANGER ZONE, as the frozen part inside reaches the state of food poisoning.  This is the most common cause of food poisoning. 
  • 2. It’s NOT good practice to stuff your large Turkey, as it will also be prone to food poisoning, as the inner temperature will take too long to cook and will be in the DANGER ZONE : 
  • The danger zone is the temperatures between  40°F and 140°F.  It’s the danger zone because “it’s below the temperature at which heat destroys bacteria (above 160°F), yet above the cooling range (below 40°F) where the growth of bacteria is slowed.”
  • Use my Turkey Stuffing Recipe and Procedure instead of stuffing your turkey.
  • 3. Always make sure your TURKEY is completely thawed out AND you wash the inside cavity with cold water.  Excess washing will help get rid of TURKEY blood. 
  • 4.  Make sure the cavities of the TURKEY is free of any bags, such as giblets or turkey necks. 
  • 5. Pat down the TURKEY with paper towel and season inside cavity and outside with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  If you like you can also sprinkle lightly of sage ( be careful because Sage is a very strong spice).  If you prefer, use a few sprigs of fresh sage in the cavity of the TURKEY. 
  • 6. If you like to use the TURKEY BAG METHOD – this is the time to place TURKEY into cooking bag as per instructions. 
  • 7.  PRE-HEAT OVEN AT 350 degree F.  
  • 8. Place your TURKEY into a roasting pan large enough for the size of your TURKEY. 
  • TIP :  Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before you place it in the oven.  This will get rid of the “chill” effect and give the true time to cook your TURKEY.) 
  • 9. Place in the 350 degree F oven (uncovered IF you are using the cooking bag method) and let cook from 2 1/2 hours to as much as 3 1/2 hours.  Again, calculate by the pounds.   
  • 20 MINUTES PER POUND 
  • EXAMPLE :  A  10 lb TURKEY x 20 = 200 minutes OR 3 hrs up to 3 1/2 hrs.  Keep in mind, that if you’re using a cooking bag  2 1/2 to 3  hours , it’s most probably cooked. 
  • Here’s a chart using NOT STUFFED METHOD
  • 10 to 18 pounds / 3 to 3-1/2 hours 
  • 18 to 22 pounds /3-1/2 to 4 hours 
  • 22 to 24 pounds / 4 to 4-1/2 hours 
  • 24 to 29 pounds  / 4-1/2 to 5 hours
  • Please do yourself a favour and don’t stuff your bird. It’s a lot safer and it’s how most Chefs cook TURKEY in your favourite resort or restaurant.  
  • Here’s my Banquet Stuffing Method ( Recipe) which is always safe.
  • Prevention is the best Safety Method in anything you do.

If you’re using a cooking temperature gauge, the turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 
Another method without using the temperature gauge, is to see if there are clear juices and NO signs of blood. 
When your TURKEY is done, leave out for 15 – 20 minutes to allow the bird to rest.  This way the juices will remain in the meat and you will be pleased with a moist delicious meal.  
Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas Season and enjoy cooking your own bird at home, during these strange months of COVID.

Please support my efforts by purchasing my cookbook “Canadian Recipes of the Great White North” – it makes the perfect Christmas gift 🎁 .

Cheers !
Chef Bari

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