I enjoy cooking a small turkey several times during the winter season. I think so many people are daunted at the thought of cooking a turkey because of all the hype surrounding it out there! I’ve been cooking turkeys since my teens. Yes, my mother allowed me to take over the Thanksgiving dinner back then, because a.) she really didn’t love to cook, b.) I loved to cook and had a pretty good success record, and finally, c.) who was I going to let down after-all? It was all family and mostly my brothers who would have probably eaten anything disguised as a turkey! OK, truthfully, I have cooked many a turkey in my day and here are my simple (emphasis simple) techniques for cooking the perfect juicy turkey any day of the year!!
Most importantly, clean your bird. Whether fresh or frozen, wash the bird on the outside and inside, drain, pat dry with paper towels* and place in pre-greased roasting pan*. If you are stuffing your turkey, do that now, if not, follow along. Once stuffed, legs tied and pinned to keep stuffing in, place the bird breast side up in the roasting pan. Rub the breast and top of the turkey liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Now, here is the critical part. Pull out the aluminum foil. Make a piece large enough to cover the turkey with room to spare on all sides. Place two pieces of foil side by side on the counter, fold over the seams to make it air-tight. Lightly oil the side that will contact the turkey, cover with the foil and pinch all the sides around and over the edge of the roasting pan to create a very tight seal.
Slide the turkey into a pre-heated 325F. oven and roast according weight and time.
I usually roast a 16-18lb. stuffed bird approx. 4-5 hours. Do follow the time recommendations, then, about one hour prior to the bird being fully cooked, uncover and begin basting approx. every 10-15 minutes with pan juices, there should be significant juices. When golden brown, remove from oven and lightly tent with foil and allow to sit for approx. 15 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer onto a platter. Turkey will be succulent and unbelievably juicy. This method hasn’t failed me in over 20 years. I can’t wait to get your feedback.
*please remember to decontaminate your surfaces from raw meat juices, such as the sink. I like to use a little bleach for this.
*also, I like to emphasize using a real roasting pan. Foil pans can cook unevenly and more hot which will affect your outcome. Also they are unstable with weight in them. If you must use a foil pan, try putting it into a roasting pan as a liner.