Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and it’s time again to check out my easy 29 Steps to a Perfect Turkey. If you’re on turkey cooking duty and are stressing about it, relax. Following these steps will make roasting a huge bird — well, maybe not just another day at the office, but not the dreaded event it can be for some.
Whether you have cooked a turkey before or this is your first time roasting a turkey, people will rave about this traditional roasting cooking method. Forget about all the tricks and kitchen gadgets stores try to get you to buy. In addition, get rid of the dreaded turkey pop-up thermometer — they are made to pop up in the breast meat at 185 degrees, overcooking your bird by 20 degrees.
Thigh meat, known as the dark poultry, is to be cooked at 185 degrees. When roasting a whole turkey in the oven, the breast is exposed to heat from above while the thigh meat sits nicely tucked under and will cook to 185 degrees in almost the same time.
If you choose to stuff your turkey, be prepared to cook it longer than the cooking chart below. It could take up to about an hour or longer.
CHEF DAVE FOUTS is an Edmond resident and a nationally known speaker in the bariatric weight-loss industry. He also is the author of four cookbooks.
Chef Dave’s 29 steps to a perfect turkey
1 fresh whole turkey
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups dry white wine, divided
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sage powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 large onions peeled and cut in half
1 stock of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1. Rinse turkey with cool water, and dry with paper towels.
2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees with oven rack placed on the last notch on the bottom.
3. Combine melted butter, sage, garlic and 1 cup white wine into bowl.
4. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut into a 17-inch, 4-layer square.
5. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine, let soak.
6. Place onions, celery, and carrots into bottom of a heavy metal roasting pan then place roasting rack on top of veggies in pan.
7. Next place turkey, breast side up, on the roasting rack.
8. Fold wing tips under turkey.
9. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt and pepper inside turkey.
10. Fill large cavity with as much stuffing as it will hold comfortably; do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish at 375 degrees).
11. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string.
12. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.
13. Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp; reserve remaining liquid.
14. Spread cheesecloth evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area.
15. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter-and-wine mixture every 30 minutes.
16. Cook for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook until temperature of the turkey reaches 155 degrees (insert an instant - read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding any bones), basting every 30 minutes. If the roasting pan gets too full of juices, remove them and reserve them for gravy.
17. After the turkey reaches 150 degrees, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth.
18. Baste turkey with pan juices.
19. If there is not enough juice, continue to use the butter-and-wine mixture.
20. Cook 1 more hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, remembering to baste every 30 minutes.
21. When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Discard vegetables because they will be high in fat from basting liquid and meat juice.
22. While the turkey is sitting, make the gravy by pouring all of the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until fat rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, and then skim it off and discard the fat.
23. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat and add 1 cup dry white wine to the pan.
24. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan.
25. Stir well and bring back to a boil.
26. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
27. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more.
28. You will have 2 1/2 cups of gravy.
29. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve with turkey.
Note: If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it. Using an instant-read thermometer will give a more accurate indication of doneness.
• 3 ounces turkey breast without skin: 110 calories, 26 grams protein, 0.5 grams fat (0g saturated), 0 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 45 mg sodium.
• 3 ounces turkey dark meat, without skin: 160 calories, 24 grams protein, 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 0 grams.