PARTY FOWLS: Dos and Don’ts for Cooking the Perfect Turkey

cooking roast turkey in the oven

From major holidays to Sunday dinners, a beautifully done turkey is often the most sought-after centerpiece. While preparing and cooking a turkey of any size can seem like a big endeavor, a careful cook can take precautions so they are not frustrated or overwhelmed. So don’t be a birdbrain– just follow these simple guidelines and your guests will gobble up your next turkey dinner.


Most commercially available turkeys are frozen, so it is important to totally thaw them out before cooking. Thawing should be done in the fridge and can take up to several days, depending on size. You can avoid this preparation time by purchasing a fresh turkey.


So you know how many people are coming to dinner, you can just eye up a bird at the store– right? Wrong! In order to prevent underserving or excessive leftovers, choose your turkey based on weight per person. A good baseline is 1 lb or 0.5 kg of turkey (precooked) per person and increase portions if you want leftovers.


For best results, clean your turkey thoroughly– removing giblets and the neck (they can be saved for stock or pets), rinsing it and patting it dry. After this step, season the inside and outside of the turkey with your preferred spices or salt and pepper at the very least.


Turkeys are extremely versatile. Feel free to experiment with different brines, dressings, seasonings and other preparations. All of these affect flavour and texture, often adding moisture or fat to the meat. If your bird is stuffed, make sure that you increase cook time as needed.


Learn to appreciate the art of trussing a bird and invest in a reliable, good-sized roasting pan. Ensure your turkey has room to breathe and isn’t cramped or squished, otherwise it could impact how evenly it cooks. When choosing a pan, try placing the turkey into the pan backside and breast-side up as you will need to do both to achieve a golden brown finish.


When your oven is up to temperature, tent foil over the turkey in your roasting pan of choice– slide it in and stay near the kitchen. Periodically baste or brush your turkey with olive oil or butter, as well as the juices that drip off of the bird. Roast your turkey for approximately 20 minutes per pound. Remove the foil and flip the turkey to brown the breast over the final hour– it’s done when juices run clear and a thermometer in the thick of the thigh reads 180ºF (82ºC). Take the turkey out of the pan and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

For every family and every cook, there’s a favourite or preferred way of preparing a turkey. From spatchcocked to deep-fried– there’s unlimited variations on the classic roasted bird. D’Arcy’s tips above are just the start! Consult with our friendly staff to add something special to your next turkey.

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