There are perhaps as many methods of preparing a turkey as there are grounds to be thankful; however, for a number of individuals, the holiday season presents a perfect opportunity to toss a well marinated and carefully stuffed turkey in the oven and bake it to perfection. While the poor turkey has very little to be thankful for, the individuals who will partake of its succulence will think of it fondly for a very long time. Below are some instructions that will outline preparation tips and provide guidelines on how to bake a turkey:
Preparing the Turkey for its Grand Farewell
First, reach inside the turkey and take out the gizzard packet. Fill the space with an orange, unpeeled garlic cluster, celery or a halved onion. Rinse the bird and thoroughly dry it by patting with paper towels. Remove the temporary stuffing. On a cooking rack, place the bird in a roasting pan. Use cooking strings to tie the tail to the legs or securely tuck the ends of the legs under the tail. Use a brush to liberally apply olive oil or melted butter all over the turkey, then place an oven-safe thermometer inside the middle of the thigh muscles; ensure that the thermometer does not hit the bone. An instant read thermometer could also be used to check the turkey when it gets close to the end of the expected cooking time.
Filling the Turkey with Stuffing
The bird should be stuffed right before it goes in the oven. The stuffing can be cooked separately in a crock-pot; however, for those who follow the rigid rules of tradition, lightly spoon the stuffing inside the neck and body cavities of the turkey just before placing it in the oven. Do not over stuff the turkey because the stuffing must get to 165 degrees and packing too tightly will prevent that from happening. Additionally, stuffing typically expands as it soaks up moisture from the turkey so for best results, fill lightly. When the stuffing has been placed inside the bird, pull the skin of the neck over the stuffing and use a skewer to secure it to the back.
Baking the Turkey
Place the bird on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the bird and check the inserted thermometer or insert the instant read thermometer into the breast (the turkey breast that is) and turn the oven setting to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If available, set the thermometer alarm to 161 degrees Fahrenheit. A bird that weighs between 14 and 16 pounds will take approximately 2 to 2� hours to bake.
Allow the turkey to rest; use a large mixing bowl or aluminum foil to loosely cover for about 15 minutes before unleashing your top-class carving skills on the bird.
In the event that things do not turn out as planned, pour a glass or three of your favorite drink and just forget about the entire thing. Apologize to your would-be guests, cancel all the plans that were made regarding Christmas turkey baking as well and try to score an invitation to somewhere that the host actually knows how to bake a turkey.