How to Cook a Turkey

Article by: Allrecipes  |  Picture by: Pam
How to Cook a Turkey
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If you're thinking of trying a roast turkey for this Christmas – or anytime – here's some invaluable tips for cooking turkey - including turkey cooking times - to make your meal a success.
You can get turkeys that range in size from 2-9 kgs. As a guide, estimate 300-500g of turkey per average person.

Defrosting a turkey can literally take days so make sure you have the space in your fridge. Defrost your frozen turkey in the fridge, on a large enough plate or baking tray - not on the kitchen bench. Allow one day for every 2.5kg of turkey.
To speed it up a little remove the giblets and you can leave the turkey out of the fridge for 2 hours. Never defrost a turkey fully at room temperature. The turkey is ready when you can insert a skewer all the way though to the thigh bone.
Safety with Raw Turkey
Take the same care when handling raw turkey as you would with raw chicken. Always wash any cutting boards, plates or kitchen knives or utensils you have used when preparing your raw turkey immediately after use. This way the utensils and boards used for raw turkey won't come into contact with any other foods. Defrost the turkey on the lowest shelf of the fridge so it can't drip on any other food and keep it covered – either with plastic wrap or in its original packaging.
First remove the giblets from the fresh or thawed turkey. Next, rinse the turkey inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. If you are stuffing the turkey, do so now with a freshly prepared stuffing. Don't overstuff the turkey, allowing approximately 100 to 175g per 450g of turkey.
Try these stuffing recipes.
Use a Roasting Rack
Again, this is not essential but a raised roasting rack set over the baking tray or roasting pan will help a turkey cook more evenly, since the air can circulate freely. Also, the chicken won't be sitting in its own fat, which will give you crispier skin. For easier cleanup, you can line the tray with alfoil.
Trussing the turkey - that is, tying it with kitchen string to keep the legs close to the body - is recommended due to the size of the turkey, it makes it easier to handle, and it helps hold in the stuffing.
To truss a turkey, cut about a 1½ metres of unwaxed cooking string.
  • Lay the turkey on a clean surface with the breast facing up.
  • Hold one end of the string in each hand, and loop the centre of the string underneath the turkey's tail.
  • Catch the ends of the legs inside the string, then cross the string over the breast, making an X.
  • Loop the string under and around the wings, then tie the string snugly in a knot across the middle of the breast. Make sure that the ends of the wings are tucked in.

Brush the skin with melted butter or oil or with whatever rub or herbs your recipe suggests.
Cover the top of the turkey with alfoil or baking paper. This helps in both stopping it drying out and in retaining moisture. Keep this on for 2/3 of the cooking time.
To cook
Place the turkey into a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. Always follow a recipe but generally allow a cooking time of approximately 45 minutes per kilo; so - for example - a 4 kilogram turkey will take around three hours.
My oven wont fit both the turkey and the roast veggies!
If this is the case you will need to cook the veggies first. When done, remove them from the oven, cover with foil and keep them in a warm place e.g in the grill compartment or on top of the stove. Reheat them immediately after you remove the turkey from the oven.
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