How To Carve A Turkey?
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and if you’re like most people then preparing the meal will be one of your main priorities. One of the most important parts about any Thanksgiving meal is having an expertly carved turkey, but it can feel overwhelming knowing where to start or what knives are best suited for such a task. Luckily we’ve got you covered with these simple steps on how to carve a perfect turkey every time!
What is Turkey chicken?
Turkey chicken is a type of poultry that is most commonly made up of a mixture of white and dark meat. The name “turkey chicken” is used because the bird’s characteristics are similar to those of a turkey, such as its large size and the color of its plumage. However, turkey chickens are not actually related to turkeys.
The meat from a turkey chicken is considered to be very lean and has a slightly nutty flavor. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including roasting, grilling, or frying. Turkey chicken is often used in dishes such as stews, casseroles, and soups. It can also be eaten on its own as a main course or served as part of a sandwich.
Did you know? The white meat of a turkey chicken is often referred to as “breast meat,” while the dark meat is called “drumstick.”
How To Cook a Turkey?
Wash the bird inside and out with cold water.
Pat it dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt inside the body cavity and 1/2 teaspoon outside of the bird.
Rub the bird all over with softened butter or margarine. Then, sprinkle it with pepper.
If desired, put stuffing in the bird. Do not pack the stuffing tightly. If you are using a frozen turkey, do not thaw it before stuffing. It will cook while it is being roasted.
Tie the legs together with cooking string or poultry netting. This will help keep the stuffing from falling out during roasting. If you are using a frozen turkey, do not tie the legs together until after it is thawed.
If you are using a fresh turkey, put the neck and giblets in a small saucepan. Add water to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and refrigerate the broth for later use.
Put the bird on a rack in a large roasting pan. If you do not have a rack, place it on several thick slices of uncooked bacon or pork fatback. This will keep the bird from sticking to the pan and help make your gravy later.
Roast at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees F (82 degrees C).
Add stuffing or dressing during the last half hour of cooking time. After removing the turkey from the oven, let it stand for 20 minutes before carving. This is because meat continues to cook for a short while after being removed from the heat source.
Remove string or netting before serving. Carve using an electric knife or kitchen shears and cut along both sides of each joint to remove large pieces of meat. Place cooked turkey on a warm platter surrounded with garnishes such as watercress, parsley, orange slices, grape clusters, fresh pineapple chunks, mango slices, etc. The garnishes should be edible ones that suit your guests’ taste preferences and are easily bitten by those who are frail or use a knife and fork to eat their food.
Gravy can be made from the pan drippings by adding 1/3 cup flour to the pan juices and stirring until smooth. Then, add 1-1/2 cups of broth or water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the gravy in a gravy boat.
Step-By-Step: How To Carve A Turkey?
Let’s say you’ve succeeded in cooking a great-tasting, moist, flavorful turkey for Thanksgiving or some other holiday gathering. Yay! But… the big question remains… how will you serve this bird? Many people are intimidated by carving a whole turkey because they are not sure of the process and worry that it might be difficult to carve and end up serving chewy dry meat (yuk). However, with just a bit of practice, anyone can master the task; even if no one has ever shown you before. Just follow these step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to carve a turkey like an expert. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve also provided a video tutorial below.
Tools you will need: sharp carving knife, forks (optional)
- Start by removing the wishbone. This is the small bone that protrudes from the breast and runs down the center of the turkey. Cut along one side of the bone and then cut along the other side to remove it completely.
- Next, cut off the leg on one side of the bird by slicing through the skin and meat just above the joint where the leg attaches to the body. Be careful not to cut into the joint itself.
- Cut the leg off the other side of the bird in the same way.
- Now, remove the wings by cutting through the skin and meat at the joints where they attach to the body.
- Finally, carve the breast meat by slicing down along one side of the breastbone and then across the top of the breast. Repeat on the other side.
If you are having trouble carving a particular part of the turkey, try using a fork to hold it in place while you slice with your knife. Enjoy!
Carving the Turkey Wings: Step-By-Step
With the turkey on the cutting board, cut off the wing tips at the first joint.
This will allow for the easier carving of both wings. Turn the turkey around and grab hold of one of the wings with your non-dominant hand. This will make carving much easier. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut along the “drumstick” to separate it from the body meat, being careful not to puncture the skin on top of the drumstick.
Carefully carve through this section to produce 12 ounces or so of boneless meat for use in sandwiches or salads. Now turn your attention back to that other wing still laying across your chopping board. Grab hold with your non-dominant hand again and slice parallel through each side of the bone (but be sure not to cut through either end of the drumstick).
By making a couple of passes and wiggling the knife around, you’ll produce up to another eight ounces of boneless meat.
Separate this meat from the wing bone by running your knife down each side of it.
Give your wings a good rinse in cold water and they’re ready for use.
Carving Drumsticks Turkey: Step-By-Step
Carving a turkey is an essential skill for Thanksgiving, and carving drumsticks can be a bit tricky. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Loosen the skin by sliding your fingers beneath the skin at the large end of each leg and pulling it away from the flesh, cutting any large attachments that prevent you from getting under it easily with kitchen shears if needed.
- Carefully slide your hand between the meat and bone on one side of each drumstick, curving your fingers slightly toward the joint as you go to keep them out of harm’s way.
- Slice along the natural seam between the ball-and-socket joint until you can see how tightly it is held together, then insert a sturdy knife blade into this space for leverage before separating the joint completely with a sharp twist of your wrist.
- Cut off the skin that is still attached to the drumstick, taking care not to cut through the meat.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. Enjoy!
Roasting a Turkey Upside Down: Step-By-Step
Roasting a turkey upside-down is the perfect solution for any holiday meal. It makes an amazingly moist and flavorful bird, while it also gets rid of all the fat that usually renders out of the skin during cooking. This method works well whether you’re roasting for Thanksgiving or any other occasion throughout the fall and winter months.
The main advantage to roasting your turkey upside down is that it allows gravity to work for you. Instead of trying to cram all the drippings into one corner of the pan, where they can burn, rather juices are distributed over the entire surface area of the turkey allowing them to cook evenly and keep your meat moist.
The process isn’t hard but does require a little bit more time since you’ll be constantly checking on the turkey as it cooks. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to constantly open and close your oven door throughout the process so it’s not a total pain. Be sure to follow these instructions exactly as written for perfect results every time.
Preparing the Turkey
The first step in roasting your turkey upside down is preparing the bird itself. You’ll want to use an organic or all-natural bird if at all possible since this kind of fowl tends to be leaner and cook more quickly than its supermarket equivalents.
If you know ahead of time that you’re going to be roasting a turkey, rub a little oil onto the skin of your turkey about a week before cooking day so that it can develop a nice, crispy skin. If time is of the essence, don’t bother with this step and go straight to roasting your turkey.
To prepare your bird for roasting, make sure it’s completely thawed if you bought it frozen (it should say so on the packaging). Remove all wrapping and any giblets that might be stuffed inside the cavity. Rinse your turkey under cool water and pat dry with paper towels or clean kitchen cloths before placing it in a roasting pan.
Next up: Preparing the Roasting Pan
The next thing you’re going to want to take care of is preparing the pan itself so that no flavors from previous meals mingle with your Thanksgiving roast. Line a large roasting pan with two layers of aluminum foil, shiny side up. This will create a barrier between your bird and the pan so that your roast doesn’t come out tasting like last night’s chicken dinner.
If you’re feeling really ambitious (or paranoid), you can also add some vegetables to the bottom of the pan. This will help to create more flavor and moisture in your bird as it cooks. Try chopped carrots, onions, celery, or garlic cloves for an easy side dish.
Putting Your Turkey in the Pan
Now it’s finally time to put everything together! Place your prepared turkey in the middle of the roasting pan, breast-side down. Tuck the wings behind its back and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
If you’re using a fresh turkey, it will take about 3-4 hours to roast. If you’re using a frozen bird, it will take about 5-6 hours. In either case, be sure to check the internal temperature of your turkey with a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the oven.
The Final Touches
Once your turkey is cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving. During this time, the juices will redistribute throughout the meat so each slice is nice and moist. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!
Making A Bacon-Wrapped Turkey: Step-By-Step
- 1 turkey (10-12 pounds)
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack
- Kitchen twine
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey, and reserve for gravy. Rinse the bird inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Rub the mixture all over the turkey.
- Cut bacon slices in half crosswise; wrap a half slice around each drumstick and tuck under the skin. Then, wrap a half slice around each wing and tuck under the skin. Finally, place remaining bacon slices over top of the breast meat, pressing down so that the bacon adheres to the turkey.
- Set a V-shaped roasting pan fitted with a rack over one burner on the stovetop, and pour in 1/2 inch of water. Heat on high until simmering, then reduce heat to medium-low. Place the turkey, breast side up, in the roasting pan; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Gently pierce the turkey skin 6 to 8 times per pound using a metal skewer or toothpick – this will allow excess fat to escape during cooking (if you’re using an electric stove, you can skip this step).
- Roast for 3 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165 degrees F (75 degrees C). Remove the turkey from the oven, and allow to rest 10 minutes before carving.
Cooking A Frozen Turkey: Step-By-Step
Cooking a frozen turkey is a great way to save time on Thanksgiving day. By following these simple steps, you can have a delicious and perfectly cooked turkey without all the hassle.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Thaw turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Remove giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse birds inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub softened butter all over the skin of the turkey. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning (or your favorite herbs).
- Tuck wings behind the back of the bird. Place breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan or deep baking dish.
- Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pan (or enough to come halfway up sides of turkey).
- Roast turkey in preheated oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. (If using a frozen turkey, add an additional hour to the cooking time.)
- Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
How to Safely Thaw a Frozen Turkey?
- If the turkey was frozen right after it was purchased, you don’t really need to thaw it at all before cooking it. Just stick it in the oven and cook! If it’s been frozen for a while before you bought or decided to cook it, then you will need to follow these instructions on how to safely thaw a frozen turkey.
- Before beginning, make sure that your sink can handle an entire 20+ pound [9 kg] turkey comfortably: if the sink is too small/narrow, then try using clean garbage can instead of a regular-sized kitchen sink. The garbage-can method typically involves heavy-duty trash bags and still allows plenty of room for water displacement.
- Remove the thawed turkey from its packaging, and remove the neck/giblets/etc that are inside of it: if you can’t find them right away, then they’re most likely located in the body cavity (the area where the head was).
- Place the turkey in your sink under cold running water; make sure that there is enough water to keep all parts of the bird submerged. If you cannot submerge all parts of it because your sink’s capacity is too limited, then fill up a clean garbage bag with cold water and place it around the turkey so that its upper areas remain submerged.
- Let sit for 30 minutes or until no ice crystals remain on any part of the bird.
- Remove the turkey from the sink, and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Stuffing (or not stuffing) the bird is optional at this point, but if you choose to do so: go ahead and prepare the stuffing as you would usually according to your recipe.
What to Do If Your Turkey Is Still Frozen?
If your turkey is still frozen, you need to thaw it before cooking. The best way to do this is by putting it in the refrigerator several days before you plan to cook it. You can also place the turkey in a large container and cover it with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. DO NOT MICROWAVE THE TURKEY TO THAW IT. Doing so will cause bacteria to grow and could make you sick.
Once the turkey is thawed, you can cook it using one of two methods: oven roasting or deep frying. If you choose to roast the turkey, be sure to follow the safety guidelines provided by the USDA. These guidelines include using a meat thermometer to ensure that the turkey is fully cooked. This ensures that harmful bacteria are destroyed and your turkey doesn’t taste like “cooked rubber,” which a few of my friends have complained about over the years.
You can also fry a thawed turkey in oil, but it must be completely submerged in the oil to avoid burning. Be sure you have enough oil in your cooking vessel so there are at least 3 inches of space above the turkey while it cooks. Keep a close eye on the temperature of your oil throughout cooking. You want it between 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit, or heat until a small piece of bread sizzles when dropped in the oil. Follow all safety guidelines for deep frying when using this method, too!
When Should I Start Preparing My Turkey?
The answer to that question depends on a few things. If you have a frozen turkey, you’ll need to start thawing it several days before you plan to cook it. If you have a fresh turkey, you can start preparing it the day before you plan to cook it.
First, make sure you have enough space in your refrigerator or freezer to store the bird. Frozen turkeys should be stored in their original packaging and thawed in the refrigerator. A 12-pound turkey will take four to five days to thaw in the fridge.
If you’re short on time, there is another way to thaw a frozen turkey. You can place it in a large pot of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. A 12-pound turkey will be thoroughly thawed in about two and a half hours.
What Type of Oil Should I Use While Cooking the Turkey?
When cooking a turkey, you have a few different choices when it comes to the type of oil you use. The most popular options are olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Olive oil is a healthy option that is high in monounsaturated fats. It also has a mild flavor that pairs well with poultry. However, it can be expensive, and it’s not always easy to find.
Vegetable oil is a good option for people who are watching their cholesterol levels. It is also versatile and affordable. However, it has a higher smoke point than other oils, so it may not be the best choice if you’re cooking at a high temperature.
Butter is delicious, of course. Its flavor will really shine through in your turkey. And it has some nutritional benefits as well, being high in vitamin A and saturated fat. However, butter doesn’t have a very high smoke point (the temperature at which an oil begins to break down), so it may not be ideal for cooking at very high temperatures or frying the turkey.
All Cooking Oils Have Benefits and Drawbacks – Finding the Right Oil Depends on Your Needs
When choosing an oil for cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, consider all of these things carefully. At the end of the day, most types of cooking oils will make your bird tasty enough to eat; you won’t ruin it if you use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. However, the differences in flavors and smoke points may make one type of oil more suitable for your needs than another. Keep your health goals in mind, but also consider how much you want to enjoy the flavor of the turkey when making your choice.
How to Brine a Turkey?
Brining a turkey, or any poultry for that matter creates a juicier end product. In the case of a turkey, there is nothing worse than serving up a dry and stringy piece of meat. Brining also helps to flavor the turkey as salt penetrates deeper into the meat than just seasoning on the skin. As far as bringing goes it can be pretty simple with just 3 ingredients: kosher salt, sugar, & water (although occasionally I will add things like black peppercorns or bay leaves).
I use table salt which is fine but if you want to go all out Kosher salt will give you better flavor. The exact measurements don’t really need to be followed so much as long as your ratios are about equal. For example, if you are using 1 gallon of water & 2 cups of salt then the additional sugar doesn’t need to be more than a couple of tablespoons.
As far as timing goes on how long to brine depends on your tastes plus let’s face it everyone has different-sized birds. You really just want to make sure that the bird is well brined before putting it into the oven. As for my bird, I like to brine overnight but at least 4 hours up to 24 hours will do just fine.
*Cooks Note: Brining isn’t needed if you don’t mind your poultry being less tender with less flavor.*
How big of a turkey?
You will want a turkey breast that is about 4 pounds.
How long does it take to cook?
The turkey takes about 7 minutes per pound. This means a 4 lb. turkey should take about 35-40 minutes to cook. Check the temperature after 30 minutes, and then check every 10 minutes or so from then on until the center of the thickest part reaches at least 165°F.
What temperature do you cook at?
I set my oven as high as it will go – 500°F (260°C). The high heat produces an excellent crackly skin while allowing for a relatively quick cooking time. It won’t be like roasting it in an open fire pit, but that’s not what I’m going for.
How long to cook the turkey?
The time it takes to cook a turkey will vary depending on the size of the bird. A general rule of thumb is that a turkey should be cooked for about 18 minutes per pound.
How do I know when the turkey is done?
You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. The meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How long does a cooked turkey last?
When the turkey is handled properly, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to three months.
What do I do with a raw turkey before I cook it?
If you purchase a whole turkey from your local grocery store, you will need to butcher the turkey in order to cook it. This means that you should remove the legs and thighs by cutting around them with a knife. You can then cut off the wings. Finally, you can remove each breast half in an even manner.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
It will take about 24 hours for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. If you need to thaw the turkey faster, you can place it in a sink of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. It will take about 8 hours to thaw the turkey this way.
Do I need to rotate the turkey?
No. The thick part of the breast will be closest to the heat source while cooking, so rotating it ensures even cooking, but there is enough fat under the skin that this step isn’t necessary.
What do I do with all that rendered fat?
Tilt your roasting pan slightly and capture all that yummy liquid gold in a bowl or small pot. You can use it to make awesome gravy! Just add some beef broth (or chicken broth if you didn’t use poultry), whisk together, and bring up to temperature on medium-high heat while stirring frequently. Add salt/pepper/seasonings as needed once it starts simmering.
Do I need to stuff my bird?
No, you don’t need to stuff your bird. I find that it makes the turkey cook unevenly and takes up more time. Plus, all of that delicious stuffing can get really soggy. If you want some extra flavor in your bird, try adding aromatics like onions, carrots, and celery to the cavity before cooking.
Can I baste my turkey?
You don’t need to baste your turkey – the rendered fat will keep it moist. However, if you want to baste it with melted butter or olive oil, go ahead! It won’t hurt anything.
What should I do with the leftovers?
Make a killer sandwich with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo on thick slices of crusty bread. Or, try my favorite – turkey and rice soup! Cook up some rice, then add cooked turkey, carrots, celery, onion, and a can of broth. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme to taste. Super easy and delicious.
Carving a turkey can be intimidating, but we’ve got you covered. This Thanksgiving season we want to share with you the best and easiest way to carve a turkey without ruining your knife or slicing off any fingers! Follow these simple steps and before long your whole family will be enjoying their dinner in no time at all.