The Denver Post - - FEATURES - To thaw To prep To roast Amy Broth­ers, The Den­ver Post For­mer Den­ver Post and Rocky Moun­tain News food writer Bill St. John can be reached at bsj­post@gmail.com.

and let it rest 30 to 45 min­utes. The turkey will con­tinue to heat up, oddly enough, but just right, and the juices will re­dis­tribute in a happy way.

Ev­ery­thing else is just gravy. Here are the de­tails:

If frozen, ei­ther thaw the turkey in the re­frig­er­a­tor or in cold wa­ter. In the re­frig­er­a­tor, in a shal­low pan lined with pa­per tow­els, al­low one day thaw time per 4 to 5 pounds of frozen turkey. (A 15-pound frozen turkey will take four days to thaw. In other words, plan ahead.)

In cold wa­ter, changed every half hour, with the turkey in its wrap­ping and breast side down, al­low 30 min­utes per pound. So, us­ing this method, a 15pound bird will take about 7 hours to thaw. (Again, plan ahead.)

A turkey is thawed when the breast meat is as soft but as springy as the web of flesh be­tween your thumb and first fin­ger; you can feel no ice crys­tals in­side the cav­ity; and you can wig­gle the legs in their sock­ets.

Don’t let a thawed turkey sit around on the kitchen counter; keep it in the re­frig­er­a­tor. But take it out of the re­frig­er­a­tor an hour or so be­fore it goes into the oven.

Un­less you’re af­ter ex­tra left­overs, al­low one pound of turkey for each per­son eat­ing meat at the ta­ble. Re­move the neck and giblet bag from their cav­i­ties and be­gin mak­ing a stock with all the parts (mi­nus the liver, which I throw away); you’ll be in good stead for ex­tra liq­uid come gravy-mak­ing time.

Tie the leg ends to­gether with kitchen twine or tuck them un­der the skin flap, then tuck the wings back and un­der the bird.

As to the fad­dish process of brin­ing tur­keys, no wor­ries, but a ques­tion: If nearly all frozen tur­keys sold to­day come “pre-brined” (check the small print about the per­cent­age of added broth or other liq­uid that the turkey al­ready con­tains), then why is there any need to re­brine (or, in­deed, over-brine) the turkey?

A sim­ple, but of­ten over­looked, way to crisp the skin is to dry off the turkey, in and out, with pa­per tow­els be­fore plac­ing it in the roast­ing pan. Sure, rub­bing soft­ened but­ter or olive oil on the breast helps brown that part of the turkey, but dry skin un­der­neath still crisps more. (Plus, the fats stick to dry, rather than slip-off-wet, skin).

If the roast­ing pan doesn’t have a rack, make a sim­ple one us­ing coils or rings of rolled-up alu­minum foil. Like­wise, a “lifter” made of a few strands of kitchen twine, laid un­der­neath the turkey be­fore roast­ing, can help later re­move the bird from the pan.

Some im­por­tant don’ts: Don’t rely on the pop-up but­ton that comes with many tur­keys. It raises its head at about 180 de­grees in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture, and from the breast meat no less. By then it’s too late. “Ten­der and moist”? No way.

My con­sid­ered ad­vice is don’t stuff the turkey. Cook your dress­ing out­side the bird in a casse­role dish. Cook­ing the stuff­ing through is just one more tem­per­a­ture ball to jug­gle. When it reaches 165 de­grees, chances are high that some of the turkey meat (yes, the breast) may be be­yond re­deem­ing.

Strong ad­vice here: Baste at most once an hour, when you ro­tate the roast­ing pan to en­sure bal­anced oven heat. Bast­ing over and over is fool­ish; the skin will brown any­way with­out it; and the con­stant open­ing of the oven door wreaks havoc with steady roast­ing and, es­pe­cially, proper tim­ing.

Some folks be­gin cook­ing the roast at 425 de­grees for 30 min­utes, then lower to 325 de­grees. (The idea is to head-start the crisp and browned skin.) Some stay with 325 de­grees through­out. I tried both meth­ods and the re­sults were iden­ti­cal.

Some folks tent the breast with alu­minum foil two-thirds of the way through roast­ing; oth­ers leave the bird be the en­tire time. (The idea is to not over­cook the breast meat.) I tried both meth­ods and, again, the re­sults were iden­ti­cal.

Roast­ing times will vary, of course, based on these fol­low­ing balls in the air: your oven’s per­son­al­ity (its con­stancy of tem­per­a­ture; any hot spots; whether or not it’s con­vec­tion), the weight of the turkey, and at which tem­per­a­ture(s) you roast what’s in it.

At a steady 325 de­grees, a 10- to 18-pound thawed and un­stuffed turkey takes 3 to 3½ hours roast­ing; an 18-22 bird 3½ to 4 hours.

What mat­ters, at all costs, in the end, is that when the thick, meaty part of the thigh meat reaches 165 de­grees, take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest 30 to 45 min­utes out of the oven.

Then carve. (Watch my video at den­ver­post.com for tips on that.)

Happy Thanks­giv­ing.

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