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Volume III
November 08, 2013

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Turkey 101

By Sydney Hill

Did any of you get asked to bring the turkey this year? Who's never made a turkey before? I'm part of that second group. I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but I have never cooked a turkey. GASP!

That's why I decided to share with you this handout I got from someone. It has all the turkey basics. So, if you're like me and have never had the opportunity to learn, you have somewhere to start!

I think part of the reason I've never made one before is I'm such a germophobe. I'm trying to overcome it so I can deal with raw meat more often than I do. Maybe this will be a good way to overcome it!

And any helpful hints you all can share with us newcomers to turkey would be very much appreciated!

Turkey 101

Knowing the Turkey to Buy

  • Plan on buying 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person

Keeping it Safe

  • No part of the raw turkey should touch any other foods or be handled on the same surface
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching any part of the turkey before touching anything else.
  • Wash AND disinfect sink, counter tops, cutting boards, utensils, or anything else used after you have prepared the turkey for the oven.


Don't thaw turkey on counter or in warm water. It allows bacteria to grow very quickly

Safer way: Thaw in refrigerator

  • Don't take turkey out of it's wrapper
  • Schedule 24 hours of thawing for every 5 pounds of turkey
  • Place in a disposable foil tin or grocery bag to make sure no turkey juices seep through wrapper

8-12 pounds 13-16 pounds 17-20 pounds 21-24 pounds
2-3 days 3-4 days 4-5 days 5-6 days

Quicker way: Thaw in Cold Water

  • Don't take turkey out of it's wrapper
  • Place in another plastic bag to make sure no turkey juices seep through
  • Place turkey breast down in a clean sink, then completely cover the turkey in cold water (you can even use ice water)
  • Change water every 30 minutes.
  • Schedule 30 minutes of thawing for every 1 pound of turkey
  • Cook immediately once thawed

8-12 pounds 13-16 pounds 17-20 pounds 21-24 pounds
4-6 hrs 6-8 hrs 8-10 hrs 10-12 hrs

Cleaning the Turkey

  • Once thawed, remove turkey from wrapper
  • Remove neck and giblets from inside the body cavity. Discard or use by rinsing with cold water and drying with paper towel. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Wash turkey inside and out with cold running water, until water runs off clear.

Cooking the Turkey

  • Use a cooking bag or cook the turkey with tin foil. Take the foil off for the last part until golden brown.
  • Cook at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes per pound

Stuffing the Turkey

  • Stuffing is optional
  • Insert stuffing into body cavity just before you place turkey in the oven.
  • Don't leave stuffing in turkey without cooking promptly, bacteria will grow quickly
  • Stuffing will expand when cooking, do not overstuff.

Simple Gravy

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups turkey brother
  • Few drops Worcestershire sauce (optional)

In a saucepan melt butter, add flour with a whisk. Slowly add the broth until thick. If you want a darker broth, add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

*cornstarch makes gravy clear, flour makes it cloudy.

  • Image:

Sydney Hill
Weekly Newsletter Contributer since 2012

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