Cooking a twenty pound turkey can be intimidating. Once you cook one, you will ask yourself why you didn’t do it sooner. The most difficult part of cooking a turkey is the prep work in getting it out of the package!
There’s the metal piece, the pop up timer (or lack of one), the turkey may still be a little frozen, and then there’s all of the strange stuff inside the bird that you have to take out before you cook it. But fear not! These tips will help you cook a perfect turkey that all of your friends and relatives will rave about. Cooking a turkey is really quite simple, you just need to know what to do.
Tip 1 – Unwrap the turkey in the sink. If it has been frozen, it will be particularly messy. Use a pare of scissors to cut away the wrapping. Make sure you wash up all areas with soap and water when you’re done.
Tip 2 – How to get the metal piece out of the turkey. This is the hardest part! You need to loosen the metal’s grip on the drumsticks/legs by pushing the end of the leg bone out from under the metal piece. Once you do that, reach inside the turkey and pinch the metal together at the base. It’s kind of spring loaded. When you pinch it together at the base, it releases the grip and it will pop open. Then you can finally get on with cooking your bird!
Tip3 – Take all of the stuff out of the bird. There will be a neck bone in the cavity and a bag of giblets in the rear of the bird under the skin. These are used to make your gravy.
Tip 4 – Hopefully, you have a fresh turkey or you took it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. If it’s still a little frozen, run it under cool water until it thaws. I always rinse off the bird and pat it dry.
Tip 5 – One year my turkey didn’t come with the pop up timer. It must have gotten lost along the assembly line. If you have a meat thermometer you can use that for it to be at a temperature of 185 degrees. Stick the thermometer in the most dense part of the breast. A turkey that weighs around 20 pounds usually takes 5-7 hours to cook. If you don’t have the pop up timer or a meat thermometer, or if your pop up fails to pop up, don’t worry. You can check the legs and if they kind of giggle and fall away from the bone, the bird is done. I found out later that you can actually buy the pop up timers, so you might want to get a bag as a back-up for emergencies.
Tip 6 – Controlling how brown the turkey gets. I always put a foil tent over my turkeys and control how brown they get. If they get too brown too soon, they dry out.
Tip 7 – Don’t forget to take the stuffing out of the bird when it’s done because it will keep cooking and get dried out! The turkey will take forever to cool down and you will get shreds instead of nice slices.
I hope that these seven tips help you with your turkey challenges. For everything that you wanted to know about cooking the perfect turkey, please visit my website where I share lots of great tips to help people overcome their fear of cooking.