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Cooking a Turkey

How to Cook a Turkey (and How NOT to!)


Cooking a Turkey

Cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving can be challenging, even when you actually manage to thaw it in time. What's the best way to roast a turkey? Should you roast a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey? And what about deep-frying a turkey? Here's everything you need to know about cooking a turkey.

1. Before You Roast That Turkey

Don't Roast That Turkey!
Photo © Ernesto Andrade
If there's one thing about cooking a turkey that people ask me again and again, it's some variation on: "Why does my turkey always turn out so dry?" What's even worse is the fact that millions of people are so accustomed to eating dry, flavorless turkey on Thanksgiving that they no longer even question it. But it doesn't need to be this way. Find out why roasted turkey is so universally dry, and what you can do about it. Read The Trouble with Turkey.

2. How NOT to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

How NOT to Thaw a Frozen Turkey
Photo © Anthony Easton
Another common question is, "How do I thaw a frozen turkey?" You would be surprised how many people start asking that question on Thanksgiving morning. Don't let that happen to you. One of the easiest ways to give someone a case of food poisoning is by improperly thawing a frozen turkey. The thing is, depending on the size of your turkey, you might need to start thawing it as much as five or six days before Thanksgiving. Read How NOT to Thaw a Frozen Turkey.

3. Deep Fry a Turkey?

Deep Fry a Turkey?
Photo © Underwriters Laboratories
Surprisingly, the topic of whether or not it's a good idea to cook a turkey in the deep fryer is one that stirs up quite a few emotions. Maybe you've had success cooking a turkey in the deep-fryer, and from a purely culinary standpoint, it is probably not a bad way to do it, all things being equal. But they're not equal. It turns out that those turkey fryers are completely unsafe. Read about the dangers of deep frying a turkey.

4. Roast Turkey Recipe

Roast Turkey Recipe
Photo © James Baigrie / Getty Images
Roasting a whole turkey is all about trying to keep the breast meat moist and flavorful while ensuring that the thigh meat cooks all the way through. The best way to achieve this delicate balance is to brine the turkey, which adds moisture and flavor to the breast so that it stays as juicy as possible. Then we roast it slowly, which helps prevent the breast meat from drying out. Here's a Roast Turkey Recipe.

5. How to Carve a Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey
Photo © About.com
So you've cooked your turkey, everyone's sitting around the table and it's time to carve the bird. Have you ever done this before? Have you tried it in the past, only to make a big mess of it? No problem. This video demonstrates how to carve a turkey from start to finish. Watch How to Carve a Turkey.

6. Roast Turkey Breast Recipe

Roasted Turkey Breast Recipe
Photo © Danilo Alfaro
One way to ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey is moist, juicy and delicious is to roast a turkey breast. Roasting a turkey breast is a simple solution to the problem of dry, flavorless turkeys, and it also means that everyone gets plenty of white meat, which is what most people prefer anyway. Check out this Roasted Turkey Breast Recipe.

7. Easy Turkey Brine Recipe

Easy Turkey Brine Recipe
Photo © Danilo Alfaro
Another great thing about roasting a turkey breast is that you can easily brine it beforehand to add even even more moisture and flavor. Brine is basically a solution of salt, sugar and spices which you use to soak the turkey breast in overnight. It's one of the easiest ways to really jazz up a roasted turkey breast. Here's the Turkey Breast Brine Recipe.

8. Thanksgiving Turkey Safety Tips

Thanksgiving Turkey Safety Tips
Photo © Maren Caruso / Getty Images
Finally, it's a good idea to remember that uncooked poultry can be a serious food safety hazard. You don't want your Thanksgiving dinner to turn into a case of food poisoning for one of your guests. So you might want to brush up on your Holiday Meat Safety.
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