One of Susan's passions is cooking and creating new recipes for family and friends.
Fresh vs. Frozen
First off, you'll need to decide whether you're going to buy a fresh one or a frozen one. There is no difference when it comes to cooking fresh or frozen. If you buy a frozen bird, you'll need to allow time for it to defrost in the refrigerator. The larger the bird, the longer it will take to defrost. If you are purchasing a fresh turkey, it should be cooked within two days. Some people find that cooking a fresh bird rather than a frozen one produces a juicier bird.
Next, you will want to prepare the turkey's defrosting vessel . . . the fridge. Make sure that there's a comfortable, spacious area for him to sit and chillax for several days without being disturbed.
Tips for Purchasing the Right Size Turkey
When going to pick out your turkey, you'll want to figure out how large a bird you will need. This depends on how many people will be attending the turkey feasting ritual and for how many days you want to continue feasting needs be considered. In this case, size does matter.
Formula for Choosing the Right Size of Turkey
When estimating what size bird you'll need, it is safe to assume that 1.5 pounds per person will be sufficient. Not everyone will eat one and a half pounds but then again some people may eat more.
Personally, I like to cook a large turkey no matter how many people are coming for dinner. This way I have plenty of leftovers for sandwiches, soup, pot pie, and so on.
The average time to defrost a turkey in the refrigerator is approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds. So if you have a 20-pound bird, count on it taking 3 to 4 days.
How to Make a Turkey Defrost Faster
If on the day that you are cooking the turkey it is not quite all the way defrosted, you can put it into the kitchen sink in its original wrapper and run cold water over it to speed up the defrosting. Another way is to place the bird in a container of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until it had thawed.
Note: Never defrost meat out on the counter as there is a danger of bacterial growth.
Turkey Roasting and Cooking Time Chart
|Weight of Turkey||Turkey Unstuffed 325°F/160°C||Turkey Stuffed 325°F/160°C|
6 to 8 pounds (3.0 to 3.5 kilograms)
2 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
3 to 3 1/4 hours
8 to 10 pounds (3.5 to 4.5 kilograms)
2 3/4 to 3 hours
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours
10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 kilograms)
3 to 3 1/4 hours
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
12 to 16 pounds (5.5 to 7.0 kilograms)
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours
3 3/4 to 4 hours
16 to 20 pounds (7.0 to 9.0 kilograms)
3 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds (9.0 to 10.9 kilograms)
4 to 5 hours
4 3/4 to 5 1/2 hours
Cook and Prep Time for Turkey (Stuffing Not Included)
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
This recipe is for a 12-pound turkey
Preparing the Turkey to Be Stuffed
- Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.
- In the bottom of a roasting pan place 3-4 ribs of celery. This will make a rack for the turkey to sit on and will make cleaning the pan easier.
- Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey and rinse the turkey under cold water. Be sure to rinse out the cavity as well.
- Place the turkey on top of the celery in the roasting pan.
Ingredients for Turkey Stuffing
- 12 cups of cubed or torn up bread, you can use any type of bread that you have
- 1 medium cooking onion, chopped
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning or sage
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon of thyme
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil, butter or margarine
Instructions for Preparing and Stuffing a Turkey
- Cut or tear up the bread and place it into a large bowl.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the chopped celery, onions and garlic. Cook for eight to ten minutes.
- To the bread cubes add the poultry seasoning along with the ground pepper, thyme, and mix. At this point, you may add any other seasonings that you wish to.
- Add to the bowl the cooked celery, onions, and garlic. Mix and then add the beaten eggs, mixing well.
- In your hand grab a portion of the stuffing mix and push it into the cavity of the bird. Keep adding until the cavity is full. Fill both cavities. Fasten the legs of the turkey together with either the hock lock that is attached or with string. Make sure to tuck the skin that is at the neck cavity under the bird so that the stuffing does not fall out.
- Rub the turkey all over with butter or margarine. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom of the turkey pan.
- Place tin foil around the wing tips and anywhere along the inside of the roasting pan where the bird may touch. This is so that the bird does not stick to the pan. Tent the bird with foil and place it into the preheated oven.
- The turkey can be basted several times during the cooking time. A half hour before the turkey is set to come out of the oven remove the foil so that the bird may brown.
- Once the internal temperature of the turkey breast is at 170°F (77°C), the turkey is ready to come out of the oven. Let the turkey sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove all the stuffing and put it into a serving bowl. Now you can being to carve your turkey. Serve and ENJOY!
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Questions & Answers
Question: How long do you leave turkey in wet brine?
Answer: I do not put the turkey into a brine.
© 2012 Susan Zutautas