How to Roast a Turkey from Start to Finish  

Your thoughts are most likely directed to how to roast a turkey if you are cooking a holiday dinner, especially for the first time.  Turkey dinners are traditionally served for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas here in America. 

If the turkey turns out right, it seems like everything else just flows right along.  The following steps will help you to create an awesome holiday dinner. 

First Step: Defrosting a Turkey

I have heard that you can cook a partially frozen turkey, but I'm really not comfortable with that, so I recommend defrosting the fully wrapped turkey in the fridge.  We usually cook 10 to 12 pound turkeys, so we leave it in the fridge for two to three days before roasting it.  It will take a day for every four pounds for a turkey to fully defrost in the refrigerator.

If you didn't know that and you are pressing time to roast a turkey, you can use the cold water thawing technique of defrosting.  Using this technique, it will take about 30 minutes per pound to defrost the turkey.  To do this, fully emerge the wrapped turkey in cold water with the breast down.  The water will need to be changed about every 30 minutes or so to ensure that the water remains cold and the turkey remains chilled.

Second Step: Preparing the Turkey for Roasting

Preheat your oven or roaster to 325° F. 

Unwrap the turkey and remove the neck and the giblets.  You can save the neck and giblets to boil to make giblet gravy.  Once you remove the neck, you will find that the giblets are most likely inside a package in the cavity of the bird. 

Drain the juices from the bird and pat the skin dry..  Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh of the bird ensuring that it is not touching the bone.

Place the turkey breast-side up in a roaster or baking pan.  It is best if the pan or roaster has a rack to keep the bird from sticking.  Add a little water or chicken stock to the bottom of the pan. 

Brush the outside of the turkey with vegetable oil or melted butter and add a little salt and pepper to the top.  I cover the turkey with a foil tent or a lid for most of the cooking time and then remove the cover to allow the turkey to brown a little a bit if I'm roasting it in the oven.

Third Step: How to Roast a Turkey

Place the turkey in the oven or in your electric roaster.  Baste the turkey from time to time with the natural juices.  Cook until the internal temperature is right.  This will take from two to eight hours depending on the size of the turkey.    

The most important part of cooking a turkey is to ensure that it is done.  For the sake of safety, the bird should be brought to a minimum of 165° F according the U.S Food and Drug Administration.  In my eyes, Butterball is the expert when it comes to turkeys and they say "Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in thigh and 165° F in breast or stuffing."

Fourth Step: How to Carve a Turkey

For me, this is the hardest part of serving a turkey dinner.  I commonly delegate this task to the men of my family because I'm not very good at it and they like to do it.  I'll leave explaining the task of carving a turkey to the professionals.  When I have to carve the turkey, I use an electric knife.  It makes it a lot easier.   

Now that you know how to roast a turkey, you can attest that roasting a turkey is not difficult at all.  The first time I intended to cook a turkey I didn't know how to roast a turkey.  I assumed that it was as easy as cooking a pot roast.  I was amazed that it took so long to defrost a turkey. 

My turkey was frozen solid, so I ended up buying a precooked turkey to serve.  Things like this happen, so don't feel alone if you are contemplating roasting a turkey and you've run out of time to prepare it.

Rest assured, whether home-cooked or store bought, your turkey will be delicious served up with all the fixings on holiday dinnerware.  

> > How to Roast a Turkey
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