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November 20, 1994

Holiday Hint

Roasting a turkey, breast-side down, on a V-shaped rack until halfway done, then turning it over for the remaining cooking time makes the bird juicier, particularly the breast meat. This works best with a smaller turkey; it is inconvenient and dangerous to handle a big, heavy bird when hot.


Save time when stuffing a turkey by measuring, preparing and refrigerating stuffing ingredients before cooking. But wait to assemble and stuff the turkey until just before placing it in the oven. Never stuff turkey ahead of time because that can allow the bacteria that cause food poisoning to multiply.


There are three ways to thaw a frozen turkey. An evenly thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before roasting. Do not refreeze an uncooked turkey after it has been thawed.

Refrigerator Method--The best, although slowest, way of thawing: Place the bird on a tray in its original wrapping and place it in the refrigerator until thawed. When it's partially thawed, remove the bag of giblets from the body cavity and reserve in the refrigerator for making gravy or stuffing.

Turkey Weight and Thawing Time

4 to 12 pounds: 1 to 2 days

12 to 20 pounds: 2 to 3 days

20 to 24 pounds: 3 to 4 days

Quick-Thaw Method--Leave the turkey in its original wrap, place in a large kettle and cover with cold water. Change the water frequently to speed thawing. Thaw until the bird is pliable.

Turkey Weight and Thawing Time

4 to 12 pounds: 4 to 6 hours

12 to 20 pounds: 6 to 8 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 8 to 12 hours

Microwave Method--If the microwave is large enough to accommodate a turkey, thaw in a glass baking dish, following the manufacturer's directions. It may take 1 to 1 1/2 hours on defrost cycle.


A. 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, thawed

There are blackened turkeys and smoked turkeys and turkeys rubbed with herbs and spices. But the turkey that appears on the most Thanksgiving tables is a good old-fashioned basic roast turkey. Here's how it's done.

B. Salt, pepper

Remove giblet bag from turkey. Check both cavities for extra parts. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper to taste into neck and body cavities.

C. Basic Bread Stuffing or stuffing of choice

Loosely pack stuffing into neck and body cavities. Do not overstuff. Stuffing expands during cooking.

Skewer neck skin to back of bird to hold stuffing in place. Tuck drumsticks with clamp or skin band, or tie with kitchen twine, and tuck wings under bird. Allow 1/2 to 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of

Insert meat thermometer into center of thigh next to body, but not touching bone. Place turkey, breast-side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with melted butter. Roast uncovered at 325 degrees 20 to 22 minutes per pound (if turkey weighs more than 16 pounds, roast for 18 to 20 minutes per pound), or until thermometer reaches 170 to 175 degrees in thigh or 165 degrees in stuffing.

D. Butter, melted

Baste with melted butter every 1/2 to 3/4 hour. If bird is browning too fast, tent loosely with foil or cover breast with butter-soaked cheesecloth.

When turkey is done, remove from oven and let turkey rest at room temperature 20 minutes.


Makes 10 to 12 servings. Each of 10 servings, without stuffing, contains about:

553 calories; 706 mg sodium; 217 mg cholesterol; 31 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 55 grams protein; 0.20 gram fiber.

Note: To roast turkey unstuffed, season bird with salt and pepper to taste inside and out. If desired, insert pieces of celery, carrots and onions to improve flavor. Fold neck skin to back and fasten with skewer. Fasten legs down by tying or tucking under clamp or skin band.

Basic Bread Stuffing

1/2 cup butter

1 large onion, diced

1 to 2 cups diced celery with leaves

15 cups toasted 1/2-inch bread cubes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried sage or 1/4 cup minced fresh sage

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 cup turkey stock, water or milk

* Melt butter in large stockpot.

* Add onion and celery and cook until vegetables are tender but not browned.

* Add to bread cubes in large bowl. Add salt, pepper, sage and parsley and toss until well mixed.

* Add turkey stock and blend well.

* Use to stuff 12- to 14-pound turkey.

* Bake leftover stuffing in lightly greased casserole at 325 degrees 45 minutes to 1 hour or until heated through.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

126 calories; 469 mg sodium; 23 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.20 gram fiber.


You can teach an old turkey new tricks. Three years ago, The Times Food Section introduced the Ultimate Turkey and every year since, we've persuaded more and more people that there is a better way to make the Thanksgiving bird. It's a method that turns out amazingly moist meat in radically shorter time.

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