Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Long to Cook a Turkey Per Pound? - Turkey Roasting Tips

 

how-long-to-cook-turkey-per-pound

Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was purchased frozen or fresh. In an oven set to 325 degrees, a whole turkey will roast at approximately 15 minutes per pound. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed.

Do not trust those plastic pop-up thermometers that are inserted in some turkeys, even free-range organic ones with doctorate degrees. Get a good quality, battery-powered digital thermometer with an oven-safe probe. These are not intolerably expensive, certainly in comparison to an overdone turkey, and will change your cooking life for the better for years to come.


Estimated Turkey Roasting Times

Oven Temperature: 325°F

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180° to 185°F.

UNSTUFFED TURKEY
8 to 12 pounds
2¾ to 3 hours

12 to 14 pounds
3 to 3¾ hours

14 to 18 pounds
3¾ to 4¼ hours

18 to 20 pounds
4¼ to 4½ hours

20 to 24 pounds
4½ to 5 hours

STUFFED TURKEY
8 to 12 pounds
3 to 3½ hours

12 to 14 pounds
3½ to 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds
4 to 4½ hours

18 to 20 pounds
4¼ to 4¾ hours

20 to 24 pounds
4¾ to 5¼ hours

FROZEN TURKEY
8 to 12 pounds
5.5 to 6 hours

12 to 14 pounds
6 to 7.5 hours

14 to 18 pounds
7.5 to 8.5 hours

18 to 20 pounds
8.5 to 9.5 hours

20 to 24 pounds
9 to 10 hours


Related Post: How to Choose a Turkey Size to Buy?


A. How Can You Tell When The Turkey Is Cooked?

In addition to using this chart and a thermometer, the best way is tell is with a meat thermometer, preferably an instant-read probe model. Inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching a bone (which conducts heat and would give an incorrect reading), it should register 180° to 185°F, then remove the bird from the oven. This exact spot is somewhat difficult to determine, but if you picture the turkey’s imaginary “panty line” (that is, the area where the thigh and the drumstick converge), you will have a good idea.

There are other ways to tell that a turkey meat has completed its roasting. The thigh and drumstick will feel tender when pressed with a finger, eager to be yanked off and chewed. Do not cook the turkey until the drumstick jiggles, meaning that the collagen in the joints has completely dissolved, and indicating that the bird is overcooked. The turkey will have released a lot of juices into the bottom of the pan that probably were not there the last time you looked. There should be at least a cup of juice in the bottom of the pan in addition to the fat that has run off the skin.


B. Why Are Turkey Roasting Times Always Approximate?

There are a number of factors that determine how turkeys cook.

1) The differences in oven temperatures. Use an oven thermometer!

2) The bigger the bird, the more meat on the bones. It takes less time for oven heat to pass through soft muscle than hard bone. Therefore, it takes more time per pound to roast a small hen than a large tom. Factor in the various conformations of the birds, and you can see why a certain leeway is needed.

3) The exact temperature of the turkey when it goes in the oven. Unless the recipe says otherwise, the timings are always for refrigerator-temperature turkeys.

4) Sporadic heat loss from opening the oven door like basting. You can wait until the last hour to baste, if you want.

Start testing your bird for doneness about 30 minutes before the end of the estimated roasting time; just to be sure the turkey does not overcook. Remember, an overcooked bird is a dry bird.

When you estimate your cooking time, err on the long side, because if the turkey is done early, it will stay warm for up to an hour. In fact, turkey should rest for at least 15- 20 minutes before carving anyway.


C. How Often Do You Baste a Turkey?

Basting is optional when roasting a turkey. To ensure a moist turkey, the key is to not overcook it. Try using a remote digital thermometer that will alert you when the turkey is fully cooked yet still juicy. If you choose to baste the bird, do so every 45 minutes. Baste occasionally with the juices or butter.


Learn... How to Brine a Turkey- Easy Turkey Brine Recipes


D. Sometimes My Turkey Breast Turns Out Dry. Why?

Dry turkey is caused by overcooking. Admittedly, roasting a whole turkey is problematic. When was the last time you roasted anything that was 25 pounds? The main problem is the turkey itself. The white meat is done to perfection at 170°F, and above that temperature it begins to dry out and get stringy. On the other hand, the dark meat is not tender until 180°F. It disturbs me to see recipes that suggest cooking the turkey to only 170°F. Granted, the white meat is cooked just right, but at that temperature the dark meat still looks pink and rare and has not developed a roasted flavor. Although the meat is safe to eat, it looks and tastes undercooked. Luckily, there are ways to “trick” the white meat into staying moist for the extra time it takes for the dark meat to cook that extra 10 degrees.


To improve your cooking, you should know about this... What is Cooking Loss in Meat?


E. Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe Techniques

For best results, here are a few essential professional chefs' tips to ensure perfection.

BEFORE THE ROAST GOES IN THE OVEN

1) Season well inside and out, with salt, herbs, and spices. Oil or butter the meat all over and under the breast skin. The seasoning can be as simple as salt and pepper or as complex as a spicy rub.

Combine olive oil and butter with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of a mixture of thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Despite its name, don't rub a rub. Pat the rub with your hands using a bit of pressure to make sure it adheres.

2) All roasting recipes call for preheating the oven so that it will be at the correct temperature when the roast goes in. Count on 15 to 20 minutes for the oven to preheat. If you have time, it is a good idea to let meat roasts come to room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before roasting.

3) Roasts (with the exception of those that are marinated) are usually patted dry to remove any excess moisture, and then seasoned. In some recipes, the meat or chicken or even fish is sautéed for a few minutes before it is placed in the oven. This pan searing will produce a light browning on the outside, which adds extra flavor and texture to the roast.

4) Don’t truss. Turkeys used go into the oven with their legs tied (trussed) to ensure a tidy finish. However, trussing is not always the best idea because it prevents the heat flowing evenly around the meat. If you prefer to truss your turkey, do not tie the legs too tightly.

5) Don’t stuff the turkey’s neck because this reduces the temperature of the meat and increases the cooking time.

6) Roast upside-down, and then turn it over an hour before the end of roasting to let the breast brown. The breast will be a little misshapen, but it stays moist. In addition, the turkey cooks a lot faster this way and solves the problem of breast dryness.

WHILE THE ROAST IS IN THE OVEN

7) Roasts need to be kept moist once placed in a hot oven. Those roasts that have a generous exterior coating of fat or plentiful interior marbling get basted naturally as this fat melts. Other roasts will need some help. You can brush them with seasoned butters, baste them with stock or wine, or even wrap them in bacon to ensure that they do not become dry.

8) Baste regularly for the last hour of roasting to create a golden glow on the skin. Or, use a roasting bag for the main part of cooking, then remove when ready to crisp up the skin.

LETTING THE ROAST REST

9) Rest the turkey after cooking on a warmed platter for 15–20 minutes depending on size to let the tasty juices run back into the bird rather than be lost on your carving board as you slice. Keep the turkey covered with foil. The cooking process does not end when you take a roast from the oven. As roasts rest, they continue to cook, which means that their internal temperature will rise, changing the degree of doneness. The larger the roast, the more the temperature increases. Good recipes will factor in this resting time to prevent overcooking.


Get this mouth-watering recipe, Pecan Turkey with Maple Sauce- Easy Leftover Turkey Recipes


roast-turkey-cooking-times-chart

We put together a quick and handy roast turkey cooking times and temperature chart to help you out this holiday. Print it out and tape it to your fridge so that this Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner you can be sure of turkey greatness -- because nothing is worse than carving a bird that is not quite done.



References:

Editors of Fine Cooking. 2012. Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook: Recipes for Turkey and All the Trimmings. Taunton Press. ISBN-10: 1600858279

Rick Rodgers. 2007. Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America's Favorite Holiday with America's Thanksgiving Expert (Holidays 101). William Morrow Cookbooks. ISBN-10: 0061227315

Sam Sifton. 2012. Thanksgiving. Random House. ISBN-10: 1400069912

Voyageur Press. 2015. Preparing Fish & Wild Game: Exceptional Recipes for the Finest of Wild Game Feasts. Voyageur Press. ISBN-10: 0760347395



Watch Turkey Cooking Videos: Jamie Oliver Roast Turkey

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