Let’s Talk Turkey – Top 5 Thanksgiving Turkey Roasting Tips
Turkey is the star of the show on Thanksgiving, but even if you have roasted a zillion turkeys, or it's the very first and you're really freaked out about the whole thing, everyone can use a refresher course about how to cook a turkey. For roasting times, and pretty much anything else you need to know about turkey, check out the Butterball website.
If you have a frozen turkey, allow at least 24 hours of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. That means for a 16 lb. frozen turkey, buy it at least 4 days ahead. Leave it unopened in the packaging it came in, put it in a disposable aluminum roasting tray, and stick it in the fridge for the proper number of days. Toss the aluminum tray, or wash it well and use it to roast your bird.
After your bird is thawed, rinse it under cold water and pat dry. Make sure you pull the neck, gizzards, and heart out of the cavity of the bird. Yes, you'll have to stick your hand inside the bird. It's not as bad as you think. Just don't post pictures on Facebook. Leave the bird some dignity. Sometimes all that stuff is packed under the flap of skin that covers where the neck would have been, had your turkey not been decapitated. Sorry to be so graphic - life is tough for a turkey. It's their own fault they taste so yummy.
Preheat your oven for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. There are lots of ways to season your bird. I rub my turkey with olive oil and butter, both over and under the skin. Just loosen it carefully to avoid tearing it, and get as much as you can underneath. Then I put together a mix of 4 tablespoons of sage, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl - I use fresh herbs, but dried are fine - and sprinkle the mixture lightly all over both sides of the turkey. You can also put some cut up lemons inside the cavity, and if you have any left over herbs, put those in the cavity as well. Tie the legs together if you want a prettier presentation. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and put it in the oven.
Once you've done all the damage you can to your perfectly roasted turkey, don't let it sit around for more than two hours. My family used to pick at the meal for the rest of the day, but you really should get everything into separate containers and refrigerate them. You don't want to end up at the ER with food poisoning. Hospital food is terrible, and the cute doctor who takes care of you will be grossed out by your projectile vomiting.
Whatever leftovers haven't been eaten in 3 days, stash in the freezer. This is a good practice for a number of reasons - you won't be tempted to make turkey enchiladas, your family won't run out of the room when you say "Turkey enchiladas for dinner!", and you can forget them until the next time you thaw your freezer. I'm talking about the leftovers, not your family. Don't put them in the freezer.