Turkey Temperature Question
I read the thread that the temperature (and using an accurate thermometer) is the best guarantee for getting a moist turkey.
But, unless I missed it, no one mentioned what the temperature should be. I believe the thermometer should go in the thigh, but at what temperature is the turkey done and ready to be removed from the oven to rest?
I have a 14.5 pound bird, and wonder what the temp should reach, and approximately how long it should be in the oven (ie when should I start checking the temp?)
Thank you all for your responses. I will definitely check the temp, and remove the bird when the temperature reaches 155- 160 degrees, and let it rest and reach the magical 165!!!
I have a brined, not-stuffed bird, so I am guessing I should start checking at about 2 - 2 1/2 hours into the roasting?
i'm doing a mini thxgiving this year for two the day before. purchased a half turkey breast and a leg. would you all advocate putting the breast in well after the leg, or just wrapping in foil for awhile? and i would think the timing is reduced by a great deal, cooking only parts as opposed to the whole bird? i'll check temps, but do you think maybe an hour or so?
You're going to get a lot of different answers on this one. It largely depends on how you're cooking the turkey, whether you're more concerned about food safety or moist meat, etc. For what it's worth, when I roast a whole turkey (not butterflied or otherwise altered in shape), I cook it until the thermometer stuck into the deepest part of the thigh is at 165 - the temp that reliably kills most of the baddies in the meat (e.g, salmonella). I usually have to poke it in a couple of places to find that deepest part - just see which one has the lowest temperature reading. When the thigh is at 165, the breast is probably a little overcooked (you can help by putting a foil shield over the breast for the last hour or so, or by icing down the breast before it goes into the oven to help it cook slower; I don't usually bother). I hate when the dark meat is undercooked (it's my favorite part), so I'd rather have the breast a wee bit dried out and the thigh/legs perfectly cooked.
As far as when to check, the easiest thing is to get a probe thermometer (a metal probe on a long wire that connects to a readout outside of the oven) that you can just stick deep into the thigh a couple of hours in, and then watch the temp until it's done. If not, I'd start checking the temp about 3/4 of the way through the time specified in your recipe. For example, a 15 pound bird cooked at 350 in my oven takes in the neighborhood of 4 hours, so I'd start checking around 3 hours.
USDA recommends 165 degrees and be sure to avoid contacting the bone in the thigh area when taking the temperature. Try to get a constant read thermometer that you can leave in the bird while it's baking. That way you can better judge the time needed (it's' not a constant because no two ovens or turkeys are alike) and get a more perfect result.
If you're stuffing the bird remember that the thigh temperature test isn't enough. You must also check the stuffing temperature to make sure it too has reached the food safe temperature.
Keep in mind the carry-over temperature effect. If you want 165, then you might remove the bird when it reaches 5-10 degrees below that. Tent it with foil and re-check the temp, which usually keeps increasing for a short while after leaving the oven to reach your desired temp. If you take it out at exactly 165, chances are it will be 170 shortly and less moist and tender than you'd want.
Exactly what I am trying to explain to my father this year. Pull it at 150F, tent it and let it rest a good long while. It comes up to 165F every year, somehow he always forgets this.
Also, turkeys don't always take three hours anymore, not sure what has changed. I am begging him to check it at 1 1/2 hours this year to avoid dry bird before I can get to their house and save it.
You don't have to pull it out that soon, just check it and see where it's at. Please Dad?!?!
Not sure how your father is cooking it, but I just cooked a 13 lb turkey last night and it took almost 4 hours to get to 165 in the thighs. I'm cooking at 350 in a convection oven, maybe that's different.
Keep in mind, too, that while dark meat is technically done at 165, I think the texture is much better around 170 or even a little higher - the meat doesn't dry out, and more of the connective tissue dissolves so it's more tender. So if you're shooting for good dark meat, you may want to leave it in until 165 and then let it rise 10 degrees while it rests. Of course, your breast will be a little dry, but it all depends what you're going for.
Wow, maybe it's my memory that's failing here. Three to four hours, huh? I'm sure it's a big turkey too, we are expecting 20 people this year.
I just hope to take it out somewhere around 160F.
Thanks for your input, sounds like I am being a bit of a nag so I will try to back off the old guy.