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Turkey, the main dish of most traditional Thanksgiving dinners, is something many of us cook only once a year. For this reason, a refresher is always useful. We consulted chef, cooking teacher, and turkey expert Rick Rodgers for pointers. Author of Thanksgiving 101 and The Turkey Cookbook, among 25 other cookbooks, Rodgers has cooked more than 1,000 turkeys, by his own estimate.
Although it often causes stress for novice cooks, roasting a turkey is essentially the same process as roasting a chicken, only on a larger scale. Just follow a few guidelines, and the turkey will be the standout of your holiday meal, be it your first or your fiftieth.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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Buy the Right Bird
We favor fresh turkeys over frozen because we prefer their texture, flavor, and moistness. But there are other considerations. You can also choose among organic, heritage-breed, and free-range birds. "I find fresh organic birds have richer, more natural flavor," Rodgers says. "It's always my first choice. Every time I serve one, my guests always remark, 'So this is what turkey is supposed to taste like.'" Rodgers adds that minimally processed supermarket brands are also good choices.
Heritage breed turkeys, such as Bourbon Red and Narragansett, have stronger-flavored meat than their hybrid counterparts. Rodgers recommends serving these pricey birds to adult gatherings since the strong flavor may not appeal to children.
Fresh organic turkeys can be considerably more expensive than mainstream frozen ones, and heritage breeds are most expensive of all. In the end, Rodgers advises, "go with your budget."
Bags and Brining
In our roundup of turkey techniques, we haven't included two popular approaches: oven bags and brining. Rodgers says in his experience, oven bags have produced disappointing results. "Sure, the meat is tender, but the turkey steams, and it tastes more like stew," he says.
Brining, too, has been unsatisfactory for Rodgers. The process requires a method of holding the turkey in a chilled, salted marinade for 12 to 24 hours. Rodgers places the turkey in a double layer of oven bags, covers it in brine, then places the sealed bag in an ice chest and adds ice packs. Still, he considers the procedure cumbersome. More importantly, "it changes the flavor and texture of the meat too much," Rodgers says. "Brining doesn't make the turkey juicier; it's salty water you're tasting." Nevertheless, we have had success with brined turkeys in the past. [pagebreak]Gear Up
A fundamental piece of turkey-roasting equipment―sometimes overlooked, often with disastrous results―is a high-quality, thick-construction roasting pan with solid handles. Some models may cost $150 or more, but you can find a suitable roasting pan for about $40. (Measure the pan before purchasing to be sure it fits comfortably in your oven.)
Lesser vessels, particularly disposable aluminum pans, can't compare, Rodgers says. "A lot of people don't set themselves up properly with a roasting pan and end up with turkey on the floor," because disposable roasting pans aren't sturdy enough to support a heavy bird, he says.
Rodgers prefers roasting pans with nonstick surfaces, which he feels are superior for making gravy. Some might argue that nonstick surfaces don't properly develop browned bits while cooking on the stove top, but Rodgers counters that when the dark-colored nonstick surface is surrounded by heat in the oven, it helps the roasting juices caramelize, leading to richer gravy. The roasting pan should also be equipped with a sturdy wire rack, which allows hot air to circulate beneath the bird and keeps it from sitting in its drippings.
A good meat thermometer is another essential tool. Rodgers suggests using a digital probe thermometer with a readout that stands outside the oven, so you don't have to open the oven door to check the temperature (each time you open the oven door, the temperature drops 25° to 50°). Rodgers cautions against relying on pop-up thermometers that come with turkeys, as basting juices can glue these gadgets shut. Use them as a backup only, he says.
Rodgers recommends using a bulb baster to moisten the turkey skin as it roasts. Because we call for discarding the skin before serving, basting merely serves to enhance the appearance of the turkey if you bring it to the table. While basting will help brown the skin, the liquid will not penetrate the skin into the meat.
Also important: an oven thermometer. "Oven temperature can fluctuate enormously," Rodgers says, noting that although your oven dial is set at 325°, for instance, the actual temperature may be significantly higher or lower because oven settings become uncalibrated over time. With an oven thermometer, you achieve the desired oven temperature accurately and with confidence by adjusting the setting accordingly.
Store and Handle Correctly
Buy a fresh turkey no more than two days before cooking. If you choose a frozen bird, allow 24 hours defrosting time for every five pounds. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, never at room temperature, which would allow harmful bacteria to grow. Be certain that the turkey has thawed completely before roasting, or the meat will cook unevenly. Whether fresh or frozen, keep the turkey in a shallow pan in the refrigerator to catch any drips.
The United States Department of Agriculture no longer calls for rinsing whole turkeys before roasting. Rinsing turkey in a sink can be an unwieldy process and is likely to splash water and spread bacteria. Rodgers notes that rinsing merely refreshes the bird; only cooking to a proper temperature can kill harmful bacteria.
To guard against cross contamination, wash knives or cutting boards that have come in contact with raw turkey before using them again. Similarly, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey so you don't potentially spread bacteria to other food.[pagebreak]Cook to Perfection
The basic challenge with turkey (and poultry in general) is that white meat cooks faster than dark. Rodgers mitigates this problem by covering the turkey breast with foil for most techniques (except for high-heat roasting, since the turkey cooks so quickly). The foil deflects the heat and slows the cooking time for the breast.
We present five techniques for turkey. Our Classic Roast Turkey is slow-roasted at 325° for about two and a half hours. (Because of such variables as actual oven temperature and how cold the turkey is when it goes in the oven, cooking times are approximate; rely more on your meat thermometer, Rodgers cautions.) Fresh herbs in the body cavity help flavor the cooking juices, while Make-Ahead Gravy provides the finishing touch. The Classic Roast Turkey is a favorite of Rodgers, who regularly teaches this method in his holiday cooking classes.
High-Heat Roast Turkey cooks at 450° and takes about an hour and a half. A high-quality, heavy-duty roasting pan is imperative for this method in order to insulate the drippings and make them less likely to scorch, Rodgers says. He also suggests cleaning the oven beforehand to prevent excessive smoking and, because turkey tends to splatter when cooked at high heat, a follow-up cleaning afterward.
With the Turkey with Sausage, Apricot, and Sage Stuffing, you fill the cold bird with freshly made, warm stuffing and roast immediately. For food safety reasons, never use chilled stuffing or refrigerate a stuffed bird overnight, and don't overstuff the bird, because the stuffing will expand from the moisture, and the bird could split open from internal pressure. This dish should finish cooking in about four hours, longer than an unstuffed turkey.
Apple-Grilled Turkey is a delicious option for people in warmer climates or die-hard grillers. Indirect grilling and applewood smoke give the turkey an attractive exterior and smoky flavor.
Provençal Turkey Breast is ideal for a small gathering with a preference for white meat. This dish also saves time―it cooks in about an hour and 20 minutes.
Rest Before Carving
Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. If you carve too soon, juices will flood out and you'll be left with dry meat. Resting allows the juices to settle, resulting in moister turkey. While half an hour may seem like a long time to let the turkey stand, "believe me, it won't cool off," Rodgers says.
When it comes time to carve, make sure that the carving knife is sharp. Rodgers says that inexperienced carvers may want to slice the bird in the kitchen, to avoid the gaze of a tableside audience. First, remove and discard the skin. Remove the thigh quarters by cutting through the joint where the thigh attaches to the body. Then cut through the joint that attaches the leg to the thigh. Serve these pieces whole, or cut meat away from the bone, depending on demand for dark meat. Carve white meat by slicing parallel to the breast, or cut the breast off entirely and then slice it crosswise.
The United States Department of Agriculture recently lowered its recommended safe minimum internal temperature for poultry from 180° to 165°. Also, the USDA advises keeping the bird in the oven until it has reached 165°, rather than pulling it from the heat five or 10 degrees earlier and letting the temperature rise as it rests. "That's because we're just not sure how much the temperature will rise," says USDA meat and poultry hotline manager Diane Van.
Still, Rick Rodgers recommends cooking the turkey to 180°; he feels dark meat might be tough if cooked only to 165°. We find cooking turkey to 165° yields juicier white meat than higher temperatures. "If consumers cook to higher temperatures for taste, that's their choice," Van says.
8 Simple Recipes for Wild Turkey
Writer Steve Bodio once had this to say about the big gamebirds so many love to hunt every spring: "How about real turkey, the wild kind? It actually tastes like bird, not cardboard, and has juice that doesn't come from chemical butter. Eat one, and you'll never go back."
I must agree. Comparing the wild turkey with its domestic barn-yard cousin is like comparing Chihuahuas and St. Bernards. They may be the same species, but you'd never tell it by looks, or in this case, taste. If you expect a bird killed on the hunt to taste the same as one raised in a poultry house, you're in for a surprise.
In this wild turkey recipe article you'll find: Tips for harvesting tasty turkey and eight delicious wild turkey recipes.
Quick links to get you started on the wild turkey recipes:
Grilled Marinated Turkey Breasts, Lemon Herb Turkey Breasts, Dijon-Breaded Turkey Breast, Wild Turkey Parmigiano, Swiss Turkey Breasts over Rice, Turkey Breast & Gravey, Butterfiled Turkey with Lime & Oregano and Turkey Fried Rice.
10 Tasty Turkey Recipes for the Slow Cooker
In the cooler months of fall and winter, nothing sounds better than hearty meals made with fresh or leftover turkey. And after the holiday season, you probably have an abundance of the cooked variety.
Always thaw the turkey and other poultry before you begin cooking. If meat or poultry isn't completely defrosted, it will take longer to get to a safe temperature. Bacteria can grow in temperatures between 40 F and 140 F—the "danger zone." A safe way to defrost poultry is in the refrigerator, so try to plan ahead.
Large cuts of meat or poultry should either be cut in half or into quarters, and it is recommended that large cuts be cooked high for an hour or two before switching to low. If you brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, it is not necessary to begin cooking on high. A roast larger than 2 1/2-to-3 pounds should be cut in half.
Here's a list of a variety of ways to cook a turkey in a slow cooker. They cook for a long time but require just a few minutes to prepare.
11 Best Wild Turkey Recipes To Make Your Mouth Water
One of the best things about turkey season is the opportunity to harvest a wild turkey and get some delicious turkey meat. Though there is not necessarily anything wrong with farm raised turkey, it simply cannot compare to a wild turkey that has been harvested and properly cooked. However, harvesting a turkey is only the first step: once you’ve got your turkey you need to use the right wild turkey recipe.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place, here are my choices for the 11 best wild turkey recipes that are guaranteed to have you coming back for more. They aren’t limited to wild turkeys either and you can also prepare a tasty meal using most of these recipes with a store bought bird as well.
Additionally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend another resource for turkey hunters interested in making the most out of their harvest.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.
The MeatEater Fish And Game Cookbook by Steven Rinella is an outstanding resource that provides great wild game recipes for some of the most popular species of North American game and fish (to include turkey). Wild game, venison in particular, sometimes gets a bad reputation because hunters improperly handle or cook their meat. Fortunately, this book is the perfect tool for helping cooks with varying degrees of skill prepare a delicious and healthy meal out of just about any species of wild game or fish.
The free recipes you’ll find below are good, but they can’t hold a candle to what you’ll find in really high quality wild game cook books written by people who really know what they are talking about like the one listed above.
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to get started with some really tasty turkey recipes?
Grilled Wild Turkey Breast
10-12 3 ounce turkey breast steaks
1x tablespoon of kosher salt
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3x cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
Season the turkey steaks with the salt, pepper, and garlic and place them in olive oil. Then cover and chill the mixture for 1-2 hours. Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for an additional 20 minutes before removing the turkey steaks from the marinade. Grill the turkey steaks for 3-4 minutes on each side at medium-high heat.
BBQ Wild Turkey Recipe
1x whole (field dressed and plucked) wild turkey
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
3x tablespoons of parsley
If you like barbecue, then you really need to try this wild turkey recipe. First, cut the turkey into pieces across the grain. Then cook the onions in a pot until tender in margarine and all the other ingredients to mixture. Bring pot to full boil. Cover each piece of the turkey with this mixture and continue to base the turkey on the grill for 45-55 minutes.
Bang Bang Wild Turkey Recipe
1x turkey breast marinated in salt, sugar and vinegar for 10 minutes
1x cucumber, sliced into matchstick pieces
4x tablespoons of soy sauce
2x tablespoons of red chili oil
4x tablespoons of peanut butter, creamed with sesame oil
Thoroughly cook turkey breast in a frying pan or on the grill and allow to cool completely. Then tenderize the turkey breast with a rolling pin or mallet. Shred the meat with a fork and combine cucumber sticks with the shredded turkey and arrange on a small serving plate. Combine soy sauce, sugar, chili oil, black pepper and creamed peanut butter into a sauce and pour over the turkey.
Wild Turkey Soup
3x peeled and thinly sliced carrots
3/4 tablespoons of garlic powder
3/4 tablespoons of onion powder
1/4 cup fresh grated onion
1x tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon Turkey Baste
1x tablespoon of dried parsley
Combine the turkey, celery, carrots, garlic powder, onion powder, grated onion, parsley, turkey base, salt and pepper in a Dutch Oven. Then fill the Dutch Oven almost completely full with water and bring the mixture to a boil Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours or until turkey is tender and can easily be removed from the bone. Remove the turkey from the mixture and let stand until cool. Remove the meat from the bone and place back into the Dutch Oven. Mix the stuffing with 4x egg whites and roll them into small balls. Fry the balls in a skillet with 2x tablespoons of butter until browned on all sides. Drop the dumplings into the soup to heat for a few minutes before serving.
Roasted Wild Turkey Recipe
1x whole (field dressed and plucked) wild turkey
6-8x quartered red potatoes
2x pounds of baby carrots
1x tablespoon of lemon juice
2x tablespoons of steak sauce
2x tablespoons of ketchup
Place turkey in a roasting pan and place the sliced apples inside the turkey. Place the potatoes, onions, and carrots around the turkey. Pour water over the vegetables. Rub the salt and pepper and rub all over the turkey. Combine everything else and spoon over the turkey. Cover and bake at 325° for 3.5 hours. Baste if desired.
Courtesy of Taste of Home December/January 1999, p39
Chicken Fried Wild Turkey Recipe
1x 16oz bottle of Italian dressing
1/2 tablespoon of Lemon Pepper
2x tablespoons of melted butter
No list of the best wild turkey recipes would be complete with out a recipe for fried wild turkey! Marinate turkey strips in Italian dressing, lemon pepper, and Liquid Smoke for 8 hours or overnight. Beat the eggs into the milk. In a separate bowl, mix salt, pepper, and flour. Then dip the turkey strips in the egg/milk mixture then into the flour batter. Deep fry in oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve with gravy made with 2x tablespoons of flour combined with 2x tablespoons of melted butter, salt, and pepper in a skillet. Slowly add 1x cup of milk and stir until thickened.
Lemon Wild Turkey Recipe
1x pound of skinless, boneless wild turkey breasts cut in 1″ strips
1x tablespoon of olive oil
1x tablespoon of dried Greek seasoning
½ of a lemon, cut into wedges or chunks
1x tablespoon of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brown wild turkey on both sides in a Dutch Oven in olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in orzo, the chicken broth, lemon wedges, lemon juice, Greek seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cover and bake for 35 minutes or until turkey is tender and no longer pink.
3x cups of turkey, cooked and chopped
2x teaspoons of baking powder
1x can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4 cup of chopped green pepper
Place potatoes and carrots in a saucepan and cover with water. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Then train and reserve 1x cup of the liquid. In a skillet, saute onion and green pepper in 2x tablespoons of butter until tender. Blend both mixtures in a bowl. Then place the mixture in a casserole dish with the turkey and cooked vegetables. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes.
Another Grilled Wild Turkey Breast Recipe
1x bone-in wild turkey breast cut in half
1x bottle of fat-free honey Dijon salad dressing
Place turkey breast in a large zip-lock bag, add entire bottle of salad dressing, and refrigerate overnight. Drain and discard marinade and grill turkey while covered over indirect medium heat for 45-55 minutes.
Courtesy of Taste of Home April/May 2002, p60
Grilled Wild Turkey Rolls
1-1.5 pounds of wild turkey breast cut into 1.5″ cubes
1x pound of thick cut peppered bacon
1x can of pickled, sliced jalapenos
1x tablespoon of brown sugar
2x tablespoons of white vinegar
2x tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tablespoon of ground pepper
1x teaspoon of garlic powder
Mix the olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, ground pepper, garlic powder and salt together in a mixing bowl to make the marinade. Then place the turkey cubes in the bowl and let it marinade for at least 2 hours. The cut each piece of bacon in half and place one slice of jalapeno and once cube of turkey into center of bacon slice. Roll the bacon over the turkey and hold in place with a toothpick. Heat grill to medium heat. Place the rolls on sides and cook slowly. Turn them every few minutes. Keep a spray bottle of water handy to deal with flare-ups from the bacon grease. Once bacon is fully cooked, the turkey should be ready as well. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
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Orange, sage, and olive oil are all you need for this seamless Thanksgiving turkey. Spatchcocking it before roasting ensures that all parts of the bird will cook evenly at the same rate—and in just 1 1/2 hours.
If you're worried you won't have enough meat for next-day sandwiches or you simply don't want to bother with a giant turkey, the bone-in breast is your ticket. With no basting or babysitting, it's the path of least resistance to juicy, flavorful meat, impressive enough to earn applause but foolproof enough to supplement a whole bird. The breast goes into the oven at a relatively high temperature to take on some color, then finishes low and slow for extreme juiciness.
Leftover Turkey Recipes!
Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day of food, family, friends, fun&hellipand The Godfather.
I also hope you wound up with a nice-sized bag of leftover turkey, because I have some delicious recipes that&rsquoll use it right up! Just click on the links below to be taken to the step-by-step recipes.
Leftover Turkey Pot Pie. The wonderfulness of this leftover recipe is made even greater if you have a leftover pie crust laying around! This is comfort food at its very best and most delicious. You&rsquoll love, love, love it.
Turkey Tetrazzini. This is comfort food at its very best and most delicious, Chapter Two. A splash of white wine gives this a yummy edge, and it&rsquos good to serve family members as they go to and fro.
Leftover Turkey and Swiss Panini. If you don&rsquot have a panini press, just make this in a skillet as you would a regular grilled cheese. You can even press it a bit by putting a heavy skillet on top while it grills. This is totally yummy!
Leftover Thanksgiving Panini. If you want a way to use everything&mdashthe turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and gravy&mdashthis is it. The mustard is the secret&mdashit cuts through all the flavors and adds a nice tang&mdashand you seriously won&rsquot believe how good this is. (Note: I&rsquom linking to my recipe on the Food Network website, as I haven&rsquot posted this step-by-step on my website yet.)
Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls. These are phenomenally delicious, and such a nice, crunchy contrast to all the rich Thanksgiving food. It&rsquos only 8:34, we&rsquore heading out to work calves, but I&rsquom craving one of these for breakfast right now.
And finally, if you have a can of unused pumpkin pie filling, freeze it in muffin tins and whip up some Pumpkin Smoothies. I&rsquove been championing them for the past two weeks because they&rsquore just that good.
This is seriously the best roasted turkey recipe ever! No Brine, No injections needed! This juicy whole roast turkey is amazing
Everyone wants the best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe ever, but no one wants to brine, inject, and all of that other crazy stuff. Trust me, I feel you! I’m one of those people! I refuse to waste my time on one dish, when I could be making several things! That’s why when it comes to making my thanksgiving turkey, my recipe is simple.
I don’t use a brine, nor do any funny injections. I simply whip up some turkey butter, stuff the turkey’s cavity with a bunch of goodies. Since my Thanksgiving turkey recipe is so easy, I don’t have to fuss over it. I can tend to other dishes such as creamy candied yams, baked mac & cheese, and down home cornbread dressing (Oh yes darlin’, you know how I do!)
***Remember for every 1 pound, cook the turkey for 15 minutes. For an example you have a 8 lb turkey, that will be 2 hours. Also remember to cook the turkey with the breast up!***
30 Leftover Turkey Recipes You Can Make in 60 Minutes or Less
These simple turkey recipes transform your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving dinner, a.k.a. the most important meal of the year, is known for its abundance of food &mdash turkey recipes that are a must have on the table, plus delicious mashed potatoes, green bean recipes of all sorts, and, of course Thanksgiving desserts! We're particularly grateful for all of the Thanksgiving leftovers (including leftover turkey AND leftover stuffing recipes) that keep the celebration going long into the weekend.
Wondering what to do with leftover turkey breast? These leftover turkey recipes are key for the days post-Thanksgiving, including Black Friday and well into the weekend. If you're a true leftover purist, we've gathered our favorite leftover turkey sandwiches, after all there's nothing better than simple leftover turkey recipes after you've spent the week cooking.While turkey, stuffing, your go-to cranberry sauce recipe, even mashed potatoes, can be tasty piled high on a roll, there are other ways to liven up your leftovers when hungry for something else. If you're craving something a little more creative, think beyond stacking the leftovers between bread, and turn to ideas like turkey salad, turkey enchiladas and leftover turkey casserole for the ultimate leftover turkey recipes.
If you&rsquore feeling weighed down post-Thanksgiving from all of your feasting, lighten up with some healthy leftover turkey recipes that are just as delicious as Thursday&rsquos meal. From turkey pot pie to breakfast hash to the ultimate fall soups that make November a little cozier, take your Thanksgiving leftovers to the next level, and you&rsquoll never be bored of them again.
Our Favorite Ground Turkey Recipes
It takes a lot of thought to create a delicious yet healthy meal, one that everyone in the family will enjoy. Lightening up the old Southern Classics is an obvious choice, but lean ground turkey, which contains less saturated fat and cholesterol than lean ground beef, is a smart choice when it comes to cooking the family favorites such as burgers, chili, and enchiladas. This selection of ground turkey recipes will enable you to enjoy a hearty and tasty dinner tonight without worrying about excessive fat and cholesterol. And while turkey has gotten a bad reputation over the years for being dry and tasteless, simply follow the easy recipe instructions and you will see how flavorful and juicy ground turkey can be. Shoppers note: Turkey breast is lean, but dark meat is not, and some packages of ground turkey contain both. Be sure to read the label so you can buy exactly what you need. Need more options for cutting back on fat and calories? Main Dish Salads are a great option for satisfying meals.
More Tips and Variations
- Spaghetti or any long pasta: Broken into pieces spaghetti, fettuccine or any long pasta is just as fine. Break in half or more to prevent lumps.
- If you like soft broccoli: If you like soft cooked broccoli, add it 3 minutes earlier or use frozen broccoli. I like broccoli firm similar to a broccoli salad. And this is what this recipe is.
- Tomato substitution: You can skip tomato all together or use sun dried tomatoes. Diced bell pepper is good too. This pasta recipe combines both broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes. And this Tuscan chicken pasta is great if you are looking for creamy pasta dish.
- There is some liquid left after cooking pasta: It’s OK. It will get absorbed by pasta with time as you let it sit “to cook” broccoli and before serving. It also makes “the sauce”. You can add more water just in case your ground turkey and broccoli pasta looks dry to you.
- Oil:The best oils for frying are those that have high smoke point. My go-to is avocado oil or coconut oil. Light olive oil, grapeseed oil or organic canola oil works.
- Gluten free pasta: It cooks faster than whole wheat and could stick more, so keep your eye on it.