It’s the festive time of year, and that requires a turkey dinner… or chicken. But even if you don’t have turkey now, you’ll likely want to roast a chicken some time in the year.
So many women I talk to are nervous about cooking a turkey. But it’s easy. Very easy. So here are some simple directions.
Buying and thawing your bird
- When you buy your bird freeze it immediately if it is fresh, unless you plan to cook it within 24 hours. If you keep it fresh, keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to roast it.
- To thaw a chicken or turkey (they cannot be cooked from frozen) place it in a large bowl in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. If you need to thaw it more quickly you can do so by immersing it completely in cold water until it is thawed.
Preparing the bird
- Wash the inside and outside of the bird. If there are any remaining feathers on it, be sure to remove them.
- Some birds come with giblets inside (the heart, gizzard, liver, etc). If you plan to cook them you can leave them inside or place them beside the bird on the outside. We prefer them cooked on the inside.
- Wash out the cavity of the bird very well with cold running water. Make sure you lift the legs and wings to get all the parts washed.
- When the bird is all clean and rinsed out, place it in a roasting pan. If you want easier clean up, use either stoneware for baking, or line the pan with parchment paper. I don’t recommend using foil. Foil sticks to the meat and is difficult to get off.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper and poultry seasoning all over the bird. Lift the legs. When you do, you will notice there is a “pouch” between the leg and the body and the skin. Rub some of the seasoning into that area on both sides.
- Turn the bird onto its back, release the skin from the breast and rub the seasoning into the breast meat.
- Place the bird breast side down onto the pan. Cover the bird with the seasoning.
Roasting the bird
- Place the bird in a 350 degree F oven. It will need to bake for about 8-10 minute per pound if it is a chicken, and about 12-15 minutes per pound per turkey. Place it in the middle of your oven. Do not cover it.
- You will know when it is done by one of these two ways: 1) when the bones on the drumsticks are exposed and dry looking, or 2) when a thermometer placed into the thigh reads 175 degrees F.
- Be careful not to overcook.
- Once the meat is done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes or so before carving.
- Reserve the drippings for gravy. Do NOT rinse the pan! Just add water to the pan and let it soak or put it back in the oven to use for making gravy.
You can use turkey cooking bags to cook turkey too, they do work well. I’ve used them many times. However, I still find the way I’ve described here to be the easiest way to go, and the results look and taste great.
Enjoy your beautiful poultry dinner!
*Note: If you have a convection oven, you may want to leave the meat uncovered for the first half or so of the cooking and then cover it for the remainder.