When it comes to the holiday season or special occasions, turkey takes center stage on many tables. But preparing a turkey can be quite a culinary endeavor, especially if you want to impress your guests with a perfectly cooked bird. Here are six methods to get a moist, juicy turkey.
The secret to tasty food is to cook it evenly. The best way to make sure that food cooks evenly is if the food is the same size and mass. That’s not true of a turkey. The thighs are the most dense and take the longest to cook while the breast can dry out before the rest of the turkey is cooked. We have all been there – smiling and chewing on a dried-up piece of turkey whilst drinking a glass of water, hoping to get it down. The five methods listed here will help you have a feast to remember.
- Six Methods of Cooking Turkey
- To Stuff or Not to Stuff
- Deboning a Whole Turkey
- Infrared Upright Nesco Roaster – Safe Alternative to Deep Fry
- Nesco Electric Roaster
- Oven Roasted Rolled Turkey Breast
- Sous Vide Turkey
- Spatchcock for Quick and Even Cooking
Six Methods of Cooking Turkey
Easy to Carve
- Bones for making stock
- Cooks evenly
- Fits any roaster
- Crisp skin
- Very fast
- Safer than deep-fry
- 10 minutes per pound
- An hour faster
- Evenly cooked
- Use only the breast
- Parts for later
Set it & Forget it
- Cooks in about 5 hours
- Stays very moist
- Easy to marinate
Flat is good!
- Cooks more evenly
- Roasts faster
- Very easy to do
To Stuff or Not to Stuff
For many reasons, I do not recommend putting stuffing inside the cavity of a turkey. The most important reason not to stuff the cavity of a turkey is it adds cooking time. The turkey itself may be at the right temperature, but the stuffing is still only warm. Usually, adding bread-type stuffing adds about half an hour to the cooking time.
The other reason not to include stuffing is because it’s not easy to remove. Any leftover bits of dressing that are still in the cavity can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Everyone loves stuffing and the easiest way to have it at your table is to cook it separately in a casserole or in muffin cups. With that said, please include aromatics in the cavity to give more flavor. We usually use celery ends, onion ends, and onion skins. They are easy to remove and make the turkey taste great.
Deboning a Whole Turkey
Deboning a turkey is a culinary skill that elevates your presentation and makes carving a breeze. By removing the bones, you create a dish that not only looks elegant but also cooks evenly and is easier to carve. This method allows you to get creative with the flavors and textures of the stuffing, making it a perfect canvas for your culinary imagination. Maybe the best thing about this method is that everyone gets a bite of their favorite part. Learn how to debone a turkey.
Infrared Upright Nesco Roaster – Safe Alternative to Deep Fry
The Nesco Infrared Upright Roaster is a great alternative to deep frying a turkey. They are fast, about 90 minutes for a 15-pound turkey. The skin is delightfully crisp all around the bird. Like the Nesco electric roaster, it allows you to use your oven for other foods. It can also cook other large foods, like roast of beef or pork. We did a chicken in ours and were thrilled with the results.
Cooking a turkey by deep frying it is popular because it’s fast and gives a moist bird with crisp skin. But you know what? It’s costly. A 15-pound turkey uses 5 gallons of oil at about $18.00 a gallon, about $90.00 every time you want to fill the turkey fryer. It’s even more if you have a larger turkey.
They are also dangerous because they have a tendency to tip over. Splattering can occur when a bird is put in the oil and is not completely dry. That splattering can cause very bad burns, hospitalization, and even death.
“Turkey fryers create particular risks. Since 2000, CPSC is aware of 217 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers, resulting in 83 injuries and $9.5 million in property loss.”Consumer Product Safety Commission
“Turkey fryers that use cooking oil are not safe. These fryers use large amounts of oil at high temperatures, which can cause devastating burns.”National Fire Protection Association
So, be safe. The Nesco Infrared Roaster doesn’t use oil and it can’t tip over. It just makes a great turkey!
Nesco Electric Roaster
Roasting turkey in a Nesco Electric Roaster is a convenient method that can save oven space and deliver excellent results. The Nesco roaster’s heating element goes around the sides of the roaster, closest to the thighs so they get to cook a little faster than the breast. Because it’s a mostly closed system, the turkey cooks faster than it does in a conventional oven. It also frees your oven for other dishes you might be making. The result is a beautifully browned turkey with moist, tender meat, perfect for serving the whole family. Our 18-quart makes a beautiful turkey.
Oven Roasted Rolled Turkey Breast
Start by placing the turkey breast skin-side down and carefully remove the bone by following the contours of the meat with a sharp knife. This process allows you to lay the turkey breast flat and roll it easily. You can place stuffing in the middle creating a stunning centerpiece. If you want an extra-crunchy crust, roll it in Panko breadcrumbs as when we made our Caprese-style with mozzarella, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Sous Vide Turkey
Sous vide is a technique that has gained popularity in recent years, thanks to its ability to produce tender and juicy meat. It’s also very easy as there is no need to watch, baste, or otherwise spend valuable time cooking your turkey. All you need is the sous vide immersion cooker, a bag, and water. With a breast, you can brown the turkey’s skin in an air fryer. Even with an extra large turkey, if you have a large enough bag and a large enough vessel, you can get a perfectly cooked turkey in five hours, with an extra 10 minutes to crisp the skin in an extra hot oven. We used spinach pesto for our Sous Vide Turkey Breast Roulade.
Spatchcock for Quick and Even Cooking
Spatchcocking is another technique that ensures even cooking and shorter cooking times. To spatchcock, remove the backbone of the turkey using poultry shears and flatten it out. This method not only accelerates cooking but also maximizes the crispy skin surface area. When we made Highway Chicken on Memorial Day.
By using any of these cooking techniques, you can achieve a turkey masterpiece that’s tender, juicy, and visually appealing. While these methods may require some practice, the effort is well worth the results when you present a stunning, flavorful turkey to your guests. So, whether it’s a holiday feast or a special occasion, elevate your culinary skills with these methods and impress your diners with a memorable turkey experience.