22You can stuff the turkey before you roast it if you choose. This is easily done by preparing your stuffing, then packing it loosely inside the chest cavity of the bird. If you pack it too tight, the heat can’t properly circulate, and the stuffing can come out of the oven still raw.
Personally, I like to make my stuffing on the side. This way, I’m not limited by the size of the turkey. There are many people at my holiday table who love stuffing, so I make plenty outside-of-the-bird to go around.
The next step in preparing the perfect turkey is to tuck its legs into the skin. Fold the first joints of the wings underneath the bird’s shoulders. Brush the entire turkey with either melted butter or oil. This will help to seal in its natural juices and prevent it from drying out.
Place the turkey in a roasting pan that’s two or three inches deep. Make sure the breast side is up. Pour a cup of cold tap water or chicken broth into the bottom of the pan, place the lid on the pan, and carefully slide your bird into the oven. A lid on the roasting pan will help to keep the bird from drying out. It will also help the turkey cook a bit quicker. However, if your bird needs to be a little browner, remove the lid for the last hour of roasting.
Depending on the size of your turkey(s), it will take approximately this long for it/them to cook:
8 – 12 pounds…2- 3/4 to 3 hours
12 – 14 pounds…3 to 3-3/4 hours
14 – 18 pounds…3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 – 20 pounds…4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours
20 – 24 pounds…4-1/2 to 5 hours
8 – 12 pounds…3 to 3-1/2 hours
12 – 14 pounds…3-1/2 to 4 hours
14 -18 pounds…4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 – 20 pounds…4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
20 – 24 pounds.4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours
You’ll need to check on your turkey periodically and baste it with its juices.
Now, many turkeys have a little red plastic pop-up thermometer inserted in their bodies. Sometimes these little cook’s helpers are accurate, but sometimes, they aren’t. You’re best bet, in order to ensure that you’re turkey will be roasted perfectly, is to use a meat thermometer. You’ll need to stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey’s thigh. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bone, or the reading won’t be accurate. You’ll know when your bird is pretty well done when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thigh and the drumsticks should feel soft when touched. The meat should also produce clear juices when it’s pricked with a fork. If not, place your turkey back into the oven for an additional fifteen minutes; recheck after that. If it’s still not done, bake it an additional fifteen minutes at a time until it checks out.
Finally, when your perfect turkey is done, remove it from the oven and set it on a counter top.
Allow it to set undisturbed for fifteen to twenty minutes before you begin to carve it. Enjoy!