How to Cook a Turkey
Cooking a turkey carries a stigma of dry, un-flavorful meat on the dinner table. If left in the oven too long this could be true, but in most cases it is a simple process where the weight of the bird corresponds with the length of time needed to properly cook the turkey. Thanksgiving is the time of year where the majority of people in the United States prepare the entire bird to enjoy with family and friends, but this dinner favorite is good any time of the year. The following will provide a step-by-step for cooking a turkey using a Reynolds brand Oven Bag, Turkey Size. Using the bag helps the turkey cook slightly faster and prevents the meat from drying out.
Cooking a Turkey
After thawing and cleaning your turkey you will need to prepare your pan, the oven bag, and any vegetables you want to cook with the turkey. You will also need to prepare the stuffing if you are going to stuff your turkey prior to cooking it. You can purchase all the supplies you will need at your local grocery store such as Meijer. If you are planning on frying your turkey you can purchase a turkey fryer and oil at Home Depot or Meijer and an oven bag will not be necessary. You will still need a roasting pan to place your turkey in after frying.
What You Will Need
- Roasting pan or disposable heavy duty roasting pan
- Vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, etc.)(optional)
- Seasonings (pepper, salt, sage, thyme, rosemary, seasoning salt, etc.) (optional)
- Stuffing (optional)
- Peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
- Reynolds brand Oven Bag (Turkey Size)
Step 1: Clean your foil pan with dish soap and water and rinse well then dry thoroughly. You can purchase the pans at Meijer for easy clean up and quick disposal.
Step 2: Place the oven bag in the pan and open.
Step 3: Prepare the bag with 1 tablespoon of flour. Shake the bag to distribute the flour all around the bag to prevent the bag from bursting while cooking.
Step 4: Chop onions, carrots, potatoes, or celery then place in the bag and the turkey will sit on top of the vegetables.
Step 5: Season the bag with pepper, salt or other spices as desired.
NOTE: The spices can also be applied to the top of the turkey to add additional flavor. This example only shows the use of black pepper for a reduced sodium diet. No other spices were used for this turkey.
Step 6: Place the turkey in the oven bag and coat with peanut, vegetable, or canola oil. You can coat the turkey before or after placing the turkey in the bag.
NOTE: If you are preparing the turkey by yourself, it is easier to place the turkey in the bag and then reach in to oil the bird. If you have a helper then you can oil the turkey in the sink and have your assistant slide the oven bag over the turkey.
NOTE: If you are seasoning the top of the turkey it is easier to sprinkle on the seasoning after the turkey is placed in the bag. If you do it prior to placing the turkey in the bag then most of the seasoning will rub off.
NOTE: Remember not to over season the turkey. All of the drippings can be used for gravy and if you over spice the turkey then your drippings may have too much salt, pepper or other spices creating an undesirable condition for making gravy.
NOTE: If you are stuffing your turkey you can stuff your turkey before or after you place the turkey in the bag. If you are working by yourself it may be easier to stuff the turkey after you place it in the bag.
Step 7: Gather the bag together situating the turkey so both the bottom and top of the bag come together to be sealed during cooking.
Step 8: Use the nylon tie to seal the bag closed.
Step 9: Cut 6, 1/2 inch slits in the top of the bag to allow steam to escape during the cooking.
Step 10: Tuck in all corners and front of bag. Do not allow the bag to touch the walls or heating elements during cooking.
Step 11: Cook the turkey for the recommend amount of time per the insert provided with the Reynolds Oven Bag (see below for a copy).
NOTE: If your turkey does not come equipped with a pop-up turkey timer then you can use a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and wing and the breast taking several temperature readings. A pop-up turkey timer pops out when the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees. Your turkey should reach a minimum of 165 degrees, but you should aim for 170 degrees or more for safe food handling. If you have stuffed your turkey the stuffing should reach 165 degrees at a minimum.
Step 12: Carefully remove your turkey from the oven using pot holders or oven gloves.
NOTE: Have a strong metal pan ready to help support the bottom of the aluminum foil roasting pan. Also create a heating pad using pot holders, towels, or other heat resistant materials prior to removing your turkey from the oven. Place this in a location near the stove. The turkey seems heavier after all of the juice is sloshing around in the pan. Use extreme caution when removing the turkey from the hot oven!
Now that your turkey is cooked, you will need to cool it prior to slicing it. If you will not be eating for a few hours cover your turkey with foil and clean dish towels to retain the heat. If you are enjoying your turkey within the hour simple allow the turkey to cool for at least 30 minutes and then proceed with slicing. Use extreme caution when opening the oven bag as hot steam will escape and can burn you. Enjoy your meal!
Do you have tips on how to make a turkey delicious? What spices do you like to use? Feel free to post a message for our readers. We would love to hear from you.