Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated March 22, 2017)
Turkeys make a great meal and an even better feast, but if they are prepared unsafely or not cooked long enough they can make people sick. This is why you first must wash the turkey thoroughly and then cook the turkey to 165 degrees.
Start by removing the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey both inside and outside with cool water. After you have rinsed the turkey inside and outside you will want to pat the skin dry with a paper towel.
Now is the time to stuff the turkey; use your favorite recipe. If you are not going to stuff the turkey you will want to place some chopped onion, celery and carrots into the cavity of the turkey. This will add flavor to the juices and fragrance.
Place the turkey onto a rack in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan (about two inches deep). Cooking in a deeper roasting pan you will be steaming the turkey not roasting the turkey. Some people like to add about a half cup to one cup of water to the bottom of the pan. To avoid dry turkey skin rub the turkey skin with oil or butter.
Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey—deep into the thigh, but not touching the bone. There are many turkeys that come with a pop-up timer. These timers are not real accurate.
Put the turkey into a preheated oven of 325 degrees. Cook the turkey to a temperature of at least 165 degrees. Most people usually like the turkey when it is cooked to about 180 degrees. The higher temperature gives a different taste to the turkey. Use the chart from the turkey wrapper for the proper cooking time, which will vary based on the bird's weight.
When trying to determine whether a turkey is thoroughly cooked it is always best to use a meat thermometer. Do not judge whether a turkey is cooked by the color of the turkey. A perfectly well-cooked turkey could still appear pink in color. A smoked turkey's meat will remain pink. To learn more about the coloring of turkey meat visit this page:
Now you need to wash everything that came into contact with the raw turkey or the juices from the uncooked turkey. This would include your hands, all utensils, the counter tops and, if you used one, a cutting board. Use hot soapy water. You will want to dry everything with paper towels. This prevents the germs and bacteria from getting onto other surfaces or food.
After the turkey is finished cooking, allow it to set at least fifteen minutes before carving. This time allows the juices to saturate the meat evenly.
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