Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 11, 2009 05:35 AM

Turkey advice

This Thanksgiving I will be roasting a turkey for the first time in about 25 years. I am getting a 12 to 14 pound fresh (never frozen) free range turkey and I want to get it right! It is expensive for me and I can't afford to roast one for practice. I will cooking the stuffing seperately. There will be 12 people for dinner but only 5 will actually eat turkey - the rest are vegatarian or vegan.
I would like to serve the bird in the traditional way - whole on a platter but I would like moist breast and cooked dark meat. Help- I feel like a novice! Any suggestions would be great.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 1/4 up some citrus (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit), crush a few cloves of garlic, get a couple sprigs of rosemary, toss with lots of salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the bird with mixture. Rub the outsidde with salt and pepper. Cook the bird breastside down, flip towards the end to brown the breast. I baste with a butter,ginger, orange zest, whiskey mixture.
    note: I bbq my bird.

    1. I think the most important thing regardless of how you cook it is to get a thermometer. Most turkeys get overcooked and dried out. Get a thermometer so you can monitor its progress.

      1. Brine it, with or without seasonings. Guarantees moistness, even if you over cook by accident, and maximum flavor.

        11 Replies
        1. re: mcf

          agree 100% , brining is the only way to go. Dont waste your money buying one from Williams Sonoma or some gourment shop, its very easy to make your own.

          1. re: baldwinwood

            Can someone explain the thought of brining to me? It must work, it's recommended on every cooking show, however, soaking a bird in a salt solution seems counter productive to me. Doesn't salt pull OUT the moisture?

            I've always roasted mine by slicing apples, oranges and lemons and placing those in the cavities along with rosemary, thyme and seasonings. I also slide some lemon and rosemary under the skin. Thankfully it's always come out very moist.

            1. re: grnidkjun

              due to the osmosis property of turkeys evens out moisture in the water and the turkey then it brings in the salt. along with the salt you can add what ever types of seasoning you want such as sage or garlic.

              1. re: fabian3dg

                Thank you.. maybe I'll give it a try. :)

                1. re: grnidkjun

                  Think of it this way. Salt holds onto water. If you can get salt into the bird, that salt will hold onto water.

                  It also seasons it nicely.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    The salt actually denatures, or uncoils, the protein molecule strands, which then allow them to hold onto that moisture. And therefore, no need to baste! But make sure you air dry that skin (that's why I dry brine instead of wet brine) if you want it to brown & crisp up nicely.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      i've always wanted to to try dry brining. unfortunately, we just don't have the fridge space to do so. (i live in a condo)... so. every year, it is wet brining with ice cubes everywhere in a camping ice chest. it makes a huge difference.

                      try alton brown's brining formula. add herbs and spices (junipers) and citris peels to your brew.

                      1. re: jeniyo

                        I have no desire to try to wet brine a 14 lb bird! And the thought of cleaning the cooler out so it doesn't have raw poultry germs in it skeeves me out!! If I HAD to, I would use my husband's old beer cooler he used when he used to homebrew. Basically a modified garbage can. But, I've gotta say, the dry brine just works so well and is super convenient for me, I doubt I'll ever wet brine a bird again!!

                        Plus you can always rub & stuff with citrus, other herbs, which I do right before I roast. Comes out beautifully.

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          If it's big enough, you can use the vegetable drawer in your fridge. Or if your bird is small enough.


                          1. re: Davwud

                            As long as there is sufficient room all around the turkey so the air can circulate.

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              I buy a cheap styrofoam cooler for a couple bucks from the grocery store. Then toss it and the "turkey germs" out after I'm dont brining.

        2. Don't baste. Basting means constantly opening the oven door and letting all the heat out. It'll take longer to cook and dry out the bird.

          Also, separate the skin from the breast meat and slide some chilled butter tabs in there.


          1. In addition to brining, I roast my turkey breast side down for the first 2/3 of cooking. No basting and ensures moist breast meat. Good luck!