I am a turkey farmer who accidentally almost served her family a medium rare turkey one year! I want to help make sure you don’t do the same.
How to cook a turkey from a turkey farmer:
1. Defrost: Bring that bird out 5-7 days before you need to oil it. There are great charts online about how long it takes to defrost a turkey from frozen solid. If it isn’t properly and fully thawed, it will not cook evenly or completely.
2. Brine: Give that bird a salt scrub or a salt bath. You can dry brine a day or two before you cook it. A dry brine is when you rub the turkey with salt and herbs before cooking. A traditional brine is where you dissolve salt into water with herbs and dash of sugar, and then the turkey hangs out in the fridge for a few days to soak up the flavor.
3. Fat: FAT is your friend. Butter, bacon, lard, olive oil. Slather that bird in something with fat. Why? Because fat gives things flavor and helps keep the moisture in the turkey while cooking. I put butter inside the cavity and underneath the skin.
4. Thermometer: Get a good, reliable meat thermometer. This is the key piece in not serving medium rare turkey. The breast meat should be at least 165 degrees, firm and white. Make sure the thermometer isn’t touching the bone.
5. Low and Slow: It will take longer than you think to cook. The turkey also needs time to rest after it is finished to reabsorb its juices and to retain moisture. Keep the heat low (325-350 degrees) and slowly cook it. You can crisp it up at the end. General turkey cooking times are 13-15 mins per pound at 350 degrees. This can vary by ovens, which is why you really need to trust that thermometer!
Wishing you all a perfectly cooked Thanksgiving!