Christmas Recipes: Cook a Perfect Turkey
Turkey Preparation Tips First, plan on about 1-1/2 pounds of turkey for each person. You can buy a frozen turkey and thaw it ahead of time, or order a fresh bird. A frozen bird requires plenty of time to thaw—at least 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 5 pounds of turkey, so a 20 pound bird will take 4 - 5 days to thaw. You can also thaw the turkey under cold running water, not warm, changing the water every 30 minutes and allowing 30 minutes per pound to thaw.
Turkey Cooking Tips Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity, and set aside for gravy if desired. Rinse off the turkey, inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Place a bunch of thyme, a quartered lemon, a quartered onion, quartered, and one head of garlic cut crosswise into the cavity. Brush the outside of the turkey with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Roast in an oven that's been heated to 350 F for about 2 1/2 hours, basting every half hour with pan juices, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. A meat thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh should register 180F and the breast should be at 165F. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with foil, allowing it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Serve hot!
If you're in a bind, call a "turkey coach" at Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL. They've got more turkey cooking tips than you can shake a drumstick at.
And yes, it's appropriate to take a victory lap around the dining room table when your turkey comes out of the oven all golden and delicious.