(For more on probe placement in turkeys, see our post on the topic. That means a meal of greens, hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and pot likker soup. The turkeys weighed between 18.02 and 18.74 pounds, except for the turkey thawed on the counter, which weighed 16.99 pounds. The best chefs understand this principle and plan accordingly by removing large cuts of meat, like turkeys, 5-15°F (3-8°C) before their target temperature to allow the muscle fibers time to rest. The breasts are thick at one end and tapered toward the other, while the legs are quite a bit smaller. These principles should work with whatever recipe or cooking method you choose. The stuffing pouch will be quite hot, use tongs to return it to the turkey cavity, and prepare your turkey for roasting as usual. Bones have a different mass than that of meat fibers and conduct heat differently. Credit: All had an impact on the turkey’s rate of cooking and the final quality of each type of meat. That is, turkey cooked at 450°F [232°C] will have a larger band of overcooked meat around its edges than turkey cooked at 250°F [212°C]. Another reason to rest your turkey is so it has a chance to reabsorb its juices. Only a thermometer can do this. The temperature of the stuffing will actually cool dramatically during the first half of your turkey’s cook because of the frigid temperature of the turkey surrounding it. Be sure to brush the bird with olive oil or a butter-and-herb mixture every 20 minutes to help retain moisture and deepen the color of the skin. The turkey is flipped over breast-side-up during the last part of the cook to allow the skin to brown. Preheating a baking steel or stone will create a radiant heat source directly below the bird, helping the legs to reach their appropriate temperature faster. By preheating the stuffing you jump-start the cooking process. Many experts recommend this method for speed in cooking and the meat’s doneness temperatures. A number of different guidelines have been proposed for predicting how much time it should take to roast a given piece of meat. Breaking down your turkey and cooking the breasts separately from the legs allows you to more easily control how each type of meat is cooked. Not good. Cooking times called out by charts and recipes are only approximations of how long it will take for a whole turkey to cook, based on oven temperature and weight of the bird. You’re looking for a lowest temperature reading of at least, The thigh meat will taste better at temperatures above, Once you have verified that your turkey has reached its pull temperature of. If you decide to stuff your bird this year, just remember to do it safely. The turkey that we air-thawed in the fridge took 27.4 hours to reach an internal temperature of 30°F (-1°C) and 64.8 hours to reach 32°F (0°C). A whole turkey is done when the temperature of the innermost part of the thigh hits a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F with a food thermometer. There are many who rely on these inaccurate methods of knowing when a turkey is done: None of these methods can be used to accurately verify the doneness of your turkey. and help ensure your superstar status with the family come Turkey Day. Lisa, That said, here are some general guidelines based on an oven temperature of 350 degrees, our preferred temperature to roast turkey. Place your unopened turkey (it must be in airtight wrapping). We have found that a pull temperature of 157°F (69°C) works best to account for the rise in temperature that will occur during the rest and achieve the optimal final cooking temperature of 165°F (74°C). The legs become loose in their joints when connective tissue has broken down, and that begins to happen most effectively in the range of. But how do you heat the stuffing and transfer it to the turkey’s cavity without cooling it down, or burning your fingers in the process? Once dissolved the connective tissue unwinds, turning into gelatin. During the rest, these protein fibers have a chance to relax and reabsorb some of the juices that are lost. ‘Tis the season to ditch your all-white palette in favor of something a little bolder and brighter. Spatchcocked: Roast Your Turkey in Record Time! Check the ChefAlarm’s Max temperature reading to see what your turkey’s final resting temperature was. Then roast your turkey, basting occasionally, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats presents this solution in his new book The Food Lab. That is a good point. Whichever method you use, verify the internal temperature of your turkey with an instant-read thermometer, like the Thermapen® Mk4. The turkey thawed on the counter was a disaster. Trussing makes them more compact, shielding them from cooking quickly. (Read about Turkey Thaw Day below!). Depending upon the method of your turkey cooking (lower temperature methods won’t experience as much carryover cooking after the turkey is removed from heat), your stuffing pouch will need to read 157ºF (69ºC) or higher for it to reach a safe resting temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). Note that the target internal temperature for the leg meat is different, but we’ll cover how to measure that later in the series. You are looking for temperatures no cooler than 30°F (-1°C) and not higher than 40°F (4.4°C) throughout. The final turkey we allowed to sit on the counter overnight in a 68°F (20°C) kitchen. But remember, even if it doesn’t get all the way there, as long as it spends more than 50 seconds above 157°F it’s completely safe to eat. …they shield the underside of the bird, preventing it from browning and crisping, but they also shield the legs—the very part you want to cook fastest! It’s typically more tender and lean, without a high amount of connective tissue. https://www.marthastewart.com/2219709/how-roast-turkey-expert-tips Prolonged cooking can result in dry, tough white meat. A 12-pound bird will cook more quickly than a 20-pound monster, which is … Here’s what to do: The key to safe stuffing is, actually, far simpler than you might think–just heat the stuffing before you put it in the turkey. Good luck and happy cooking! Secure the Skin. Let stand about 15 minutes for easiest carving. The texture, juiciness, and food safety of your turkey are a direct result of careful temperature control throughout the entire process, from thawing to resting. Remember, your turkey is only as done as the lowest internal temperatures you can find. For the most accurate probe placement, it helps to know a thing or two about your leave-in thermometer’s probe. Richard, For best results this Thanksgiving, place your thermometer’s oven-safe probe into the deepest part of the turkey breast, avoiding bone. We’ll look at the results as we go through the various methods. You’ve created a little sack of stuffing that perfectly fits the shape and size of your turkey, and the stuffing will stay in a compact little space. If your Thanksgiving preparations include actual running in your kitchen or moderate levels of anxiety, then this is the method for you. The easiest way to heat up the stuffing is in the microwave. Therefore, it's important to rotate the turkey's roasting pan every 30 minutes to make sure the bird cooks evenly. This lowest temperature is the one that needs to be tracked during the cook because your meat is only as done and safe as the lowest temperature found. Our target pull temperature of 157°F (69°C) is calculated to allow both for the carryover rise to 165°F (74°C) and to meet the USDA’s alternative recommendation that turkey be held at 157°F (74°C) for 49.5 seconds in order to achieve the same level of pathogen reduction. Hardly any Thanksgiving table is complete without stuffing. This process of connective tissue turning into gelatin is what gives tough, slow twitch muscle meats (like pork shoulder and brisket) their silky, succulent texture. If the turkey meat is not at a uniform temperature before you cook it on Thanksgiving morning, you’re asking for disaster. A clock cannot tell you when food is cooked. And the stuffing is the last thing to come to temperature. Thanks for all the great and detailed info!!!! The only 100% reliable way to tell when your turkey is cooked is to use a thermometer like the instant-read Thermapen. To crisp the skin on the breast, turn the bird breast side up for the second half of the roasting. Resting your turkey is a critical part of preparing your turkey to be succulent, moist, and delicious. We found that a method combining 1) icing the breasts while the turkey sits on the counter, 2) using a preheated baking stone in the oven, and 3) keeping the legs open rather than trussed, resulted in a turkey with the different pull temperatures we were looking for. How long to cook a turkey per pound? And the first thing you need to do to ensure perfect turkey doneness at the end of your cook, is to properly place the probe of your leave-in probe thermometer at the beginning. Many different temperatures exist in an oven at any given time (see the illustration below). The stuffing should also be 165 degrees F. Keep reading to find out why. We always use Butterball turkeys in our kitchen. The difference lies in the type of muscle that each is, and how it’s used on the animal. There’s still one more step. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, any bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again. Once it’s full, tie off the cheesecloth pouch and trim off any excess cheesecloth. Place the turkey breast onto the roasting pan with the breast side … You will need to allow at least 30 minutes per pound (per .45 kg), so it will still take some time. Listen, there's more than one way to skin a cat. This method, recommended by. Lastly, after you thaw your turkey, thoroughly dry the surface of the turkey before putting it into the oven (or smoker or oil). …Actual cooking time will vary depending on how well it is defrosted, whether or not you brined or injected, what temp your fridge is, if it sat at room temp for a while, how close your bird is to the gravy pan, how well your cooker holds a steady [temperature], the quality of your thermometers, airflow within the cooker, humidity in the cooker and the breast size of your bird. For about 30 minutes after being pulled from the heat source, the heat from the outer portion of the meat will increase the turkey’s internal temperature. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. The heat of the oven or smoker must first work to evaporate the surface moisture before the cooking really begins. If you don’t have several days at your disposal, you can try the speed method. And we tried them all! Since turkeys are flightless birds, their breast meat is white rather than dark like the breast meat of a duck or goose. So, be sure to use a leave-in probe thermometer that can track your turkey’s internal temperature from outside the oven, like the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. We have the thermal tips you need to plan when to begin thawing your turkey and to ensure you do it safely. The most obvious drawback to this deconstructed cooking method is that you won’t have a traditional whole turkey to present to your guests at the table. An oven-safe leave-in probe thermometer to track the cook and an instant read thermometer to verify its doneness. Just make sure your probe tip is in the thermal center! Begin by roasting your turkey at 425°F for 40 to 45 minutes before lowering the temperature of the oven to 350°F for the rest of the cook time. Your turkey is cooked when the breast meat reaches 170°F and the thighs reaches 180°F. Before the thawed turkey goes into the oven, it’s mostly at one equal temperature from edge to edge. Cook all dark meat to an internal temperature of 175° F to 180° F, and all white meat to an internal … Compared to the other method mentioned, this cooking process is faster and creates a crispy golden exterior and a tender meat that naturally retains more of its moisture. For most turkey sizes, this is the perfect day to place your frozen turkey in the refrigerator—allowing plenty of time for thawing without letting the thawed turkey overstay it’s welcome in the fridge before cooking. Return the stuffing to the bird when you are done (the pouch makes this easy). When your DOT, Smoke, or ChefAlarm’s high alarm of 157°F (69°C) sounds, verify that its reading is the lowest temperature in the turkey by using an instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen Mk4. And when it comes to roasting your Thanksgiving turkey, there are different ways to do it. Southern Living is part of the Meredith Home Group. Icing the breasts lowered the white meat’s temperature by about. ), Thermal center? The ideal place to thaw your turkey is in the fridge, which can take up to a week … Forget about timing charts, checking for juices, or poking your meat with your finger. The turkey is done when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) at the thigh. We thawed another turkey in a bucket of water placed in the refrigerator, with an initial water temp of 40°F (4°C). If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the stuffing as well. Are they really that important?1. The warm air did too good a job thawing the outside of the bird, reaching 40°F (4.4°C) in only 15.5 hours. A turkey pulled too early could possibly still contain foodborne illnesses, while a turkey pulled too late will be dry. Use a Thermapen to test the internal temperature of your stuffing. Before we get into some very important thermal information, let’s lay out some basics. The time it will take depends on how large your turkey is, but the end goal is the same: a temperature reading of 155°F when a meat thermometer is inserted in the thickest portion of the turkey breast. This method is simple and roasts the bird slowly, which gently cooks the meat but tends to dry out the bird a little more than the other method. Set your ChefAlarm’s timer for 30 minutes, and allow your turkey to rest at room temperature. The only 100% reliable way to tell when your turkey is cooked is to use a thermometer like the instant-read, Verifying your turkey’s pull temp and carryover cooking, The Food Lab’s Step-by-Step Guide to Smoking A Turkey, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. The turkey that we water-thawed in the cooler took 27.37 hours to reach an internal temperature of, The turkey that we water-thawed in the fridge took 16.1 hours to reach an internal temperature of, You can use a basin or a sink filled with ice water for thawing your turkey but you will need to exercise. Strictly following turkey cook time chart recommendations. So would a 9-10 # turkey not rise to 165 degrees if removed from oven @ 157 degrees since it was stated that the smaller the bird the less the rise in temp at rest? © Copyright 2020 Meredith Corporation. This process may require 1-2 large bags of ice—so be prepared. There are a couple of different ways to thaw a turkey but only one way to verify it’s completely thawed. Thinking one bird will take approximately four hours. The more uniform a piece of meat is in shape and size, the more evenly it will cook. The differences between white and dark turkey meat are similar to the differences between a tenderloin steak and a brisket. Heat oven to 325°F. This is particularly important if you will be brining your turkey (soaking it in saltwater). The thermal center: The thermal center is the point in the turkey furthest from the exterior of the meat that takes the longest to cook. Resting your turkey is. You’ve likely heard experts say that you should never stuff a turkey. Like the other method, it's a good idea to brush the turkey every 15 to 20 minutes with butter or olive oil to help the surface brown and keep the meat moist. Fortunately, the traditional Thanksgiving presentation with stuffing inside the bird is both delicious and safe when done properly. You won’t want to skip this part in finishing your Thanksgiving masterpiece. If you want extra crispy turkey skin, a little extra planning and effort up front can pay real dividends. Set the ChefAlarm‘s high alarm to 157°F (69°C) and the alarm will sound when its internal temperature on target. Why it works: Hopefully, this will help you get a perfect doneness on both parts of your turkey. With the presence of temperature gradients, the only way to know if the reading on your Leave-in Probe Alarm Thermometer is the lowest temperature in the meat is to spot-check the internal temperature of your turkey with an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen. And the critical first step to gauging the internal temperature of your bird this Thanksgiving is properly placing the probe. Now, there are many ways to cook a turkey but our favorite, by far, is a simple roast. Slow twitch muscles are from heavily-worked areas of the animal and are designed for constant, extended periods of activity. In this method the breast meat is shielded from being exposed to direct ambient heat while the legs are more exposed to the heat, helping them to cook faster. Alton Brown recommends covering the breasts with heavy duty foil to shield them from the heat keeps the white meat from overcooking while the leg meat cooks. Allow the raw bird to rest at room temperature while icing the breasts. Perhaps the question people ask most about cooking a turkey is how long it is going to take. Cooking-time tables can be useful for estimating cooking times, but you are right that they cannot tell you everything you need to know! While exposed to the intense heat of an oven, smoker or fryer, turkey meat’s protein fibers shorten, shrink, and contract, expelling out the water they’ve retained. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey … Again, it’s easy. Do this in at least two places in the breast and at least two places in the thigh. Allow at least 24 hours for every 5-6 pounds (2.3–2.7 kg) of frozen turkey. The reading constantly changes because that’s what’s going on in the meat—so cool! They don’t call it Turkey Day for nothing. How To Cook a Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Method | Kitchn Place turkey breast side up in a shallow roasting pan, on a rack if you have one. Then turn the oven down to 325°F (163°C) and cook for the remaining time—until your leave-in probe thermometer sounds. Thaw Your Turkey. Thinking of cooking a turkey with that perspective, it’s no wonder that breast meat is often overcooked and dry, and the leg meat can be tough. You can always cook your stuffing separately, but then it isn’t infused with all the delicious flavors from the turkey. As we’re passing the probe through the meat, it’s easy to see the temperature gradients from edge to edge with the constantly changing readings. When cooking a turkey, you need two thermometers, not just one. According to the USDA, many other variables affect the length of the cook, including: The truth is that charts and recipes with cook time recommendations are a very rough estimate, not a gauge of doneness at all. Just remember: thaw correctly, get the thermometer in the right place, track and verify your temperatures, be aware of dark and white meat differences, and be careful with the stuffing! At ThermoWorks we recommend a 30-minute rest. By the time the frozen area comes to its pull temperature, the outermost layers of the turkey will be woefully overcooked. So many of us overcook poultry for fear of possibly undercooking it. There are a few different tips and techniques of cooking a whole turkey to keep the breast meat tender and juicy, while allowing the legs to come up to their best temperature range to dissolve connective tissue. It will be rubberier, but edible. For each project, we used our dual-channel oven thermometer, Smoke. Proper thawing is critical to the success of your turkey on Thanksgiving day. Minutes per inch thickness and minutes per pound are the usual approximations. Disregard these ideas at your own peril! 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