Turkey has been and will continue to be the main attraction on most Thanksgiving tables. Whether brined, roasted or deep fried, turkey is synonymous with the holiday. Passed down from generation to generation, we think to get a moist turkey we have to open the door of the oven and grab that baster and squirt those drippings all over our turkey! But, is that the best way to achieve that delicious, moist bird we aspire to serve to guests?
Unfortunately NOT! All you are doing is lowering the oven temperature and and requiring a longer cooking time. When you drench the bird in the drippings they invariably caress the bird only for a moment and end up back where they started, at the bottom of the pan.
The key to a perfectly roasted bird, is starting your bird at room temperature, placing it in at high heat to start, 425˚F for 15 minutes and then lowering the oven to 350˚F to finish cooking. Forget the time listed on the plastic wrapping it came in and the pop-up indicator placed in the breast by Butterball. Purchase an instant read thermometer, I recommend the Thermapen and check the internal temperature at the meatiest part of the thigh. This is the part of the turkey that takes the longest to cook. The magic temperature is 170˚F in the thigh. The thermometer placed in the breast, without touching bone should be 165˚F. By starting at the high heat, it will brown the skin first! Then lowering the heat helps the bird to continue to cook without drying out.
One last thought...
Don't forget to start defrosting that bird in plenty of time and you will have a very successful Thanksgiving centerpiece! One day, 24 hours, of defrosting in the refrigerator for every 4 - 5 pounds of turkey!