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Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 4 – Turkey

Here are a few tips on what to look for when cooking a Turkey!


The 5 most common questions that I have heard over the years.

Question #1 – How long does it take to thaw my Turkey?

The best way to thaw your turkey is in the refridgerator, so that it stays in a climate controlled enviornment.  You can figure 1 day (24 hours) for every 4 to 5 pounds.  So if your Turkey wieghs 12 pounds, figure at least 2 to 3 days.

Question #2 – How long does it take to cook my Turkey?

The easy answer is 15 minutes per pound.  So if you have a 12 pound Turkey . . .

12 pounds x 15 minutes = 180 minutes

180 minutes / 60 min = 3 hours

Of course it may take a little longer, or not quite as long (refer to question 4 to see how to tell when its done).

Question #3 – How do I season my Turkey?

Salt and pepper are flavor enhancers, so you can’t go wrong with that.  But if you want to add a little more, sage, thyme, rosemary or a poultry seasonings are good too.  Just make sure you get the seasoning all over the outside and inside the cavity of the bird as well. 

Question #4 – How do I cook my Turkey?

Generally cooking instructions will be on the package the turkey came in, but I will preheat the oven to 425 degrees and put the turkey in for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp.  Then, I turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and let it cook for the desired time (I don’t count the initial 20 to 30 minutes as part of the needed cooking time).

Question #5 – How do I tell when my Turkey is done?

There are a few things to look for that show when the Turkey is done:

  1. The internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.  Most of the time when cooking a whole bird, the temperature needs to reach closer to 180 degrees to ensure that its done, based on the other things too look for.
  2. The juices are running clear. Don’t want any of that red or pink stuff running out, just nice and clear.
  3. The joints are loose. When the poultry is done enough, the  cartilidge that makes up the most part of the joints will melt and turn into gelatin (that’s why turkey juice when it cools down looks like jello) and therefore the joints become very loose.
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About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.

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