It’s Turkey time! If you’re feeling nervous about cooking the big bird next week, never fear…Chef Alli is here! I’m sharing tips, pointers, rules, and HELP for having a successful turkey on the big day. Below are four solid tips for taming the turkey terror, plus an easy, delicious Seasoned Turkey Breast recipe, perfect for the holidays.
1. Be Sure Your Turkey is Completely Thawed.
There is no purchasing of a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving eve to wake up the next morn and pop it into the oven.
Yes, we can purchase a fresh turkey to alleviate the thawing part (and the stress), but odds are most of us are going to buy a frozen bird. And a frozen turkey requires adequate time in the fridge to thaw….that’s a fact, Jack.
Trying to cook a partially-frozen turkey leads to nothing but a train wreck – just don’t do it. Unless, of course, you enjoy turkey that’s cooked unevenly, and a real struggle to get a consistent internal temperature reading from.
Since thawing the bird is CRUCIAL, let’s do the math! It takes 24 hours of refrigerator thawing time for every 4-5 lbs. of frozen turkey, and let’s say you purchase a 12 lb. turkey. He is going to take 72 hours in the fridge (at a minimum) to thaw!
2. Brine That Bird!
Why? Because, most importantly, it keeps your bird moist and juicy! And secondly, it enhances the flavor of your turkey. I brine a turkey breast for 8-12 hours and whole turkeys for 15-24 hours, depending on size. (Refer to my recipe in this post for the actual brining steps.)
3. Learn How to Use an Instant-Read Meat Thermometer to Temp Your Turkey.
For every pound of turkey, plan for 15-20 minutes in the oven. For instance, a 12 lb. turkey should take approximately 3 hours to cook, but that’s an estimated time. The only way to know exactly when to stop the cooking process is by taking the actual internal temperature of the turkey.
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the internal temperature of a cooked turkey. Since I always brine my turkey, I don’t have to worry too much, and I typically cook my brined bird to about 160-165 degrees F in the breast, remove it from the oven and cover it to rest. This will allow my bird to raise a few more degrees internally.
Bottom line: cook your turkey to the internal temperature that you are comfortable with.
4. Don’t Skip The Beauty Rest. Your Bird Needs It!
Don’t slam an ice cold turkey into a hot oven. Get your bird out of refrigeration and the brine he’s in; pat him dry, then place your bird into a greased roasting pan and let him rest for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. This let’s your turkey relax and prepare for cooking. (If he’s so relaxed that he asks for a cocktail, you’ll know you’ve over done it!)
When your bird comes out of the oven, resist any temptation to carve him that minute. You have to give him more beauty rest! Resting allows the juice in the meat to redistribute evenly. If you get anxious and carve him too soon, you will lose a lot of that lovely juice.
Savory Seasoned Turkey Breast
- 1 turkey breast, 5-6 lbs., thawed well
- 1 cup broth
- 2 tsp. seasoned salt
- 2 tsp. granulated garlic
- 2 tsp. paprika (sometimes I sub 1 tsp. smoked paprika)
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. black pepper
Combine everything well in a small bowl; reserve.
Brine for a Turkey Breast
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 quarts water, divided use
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed (no need to remove skins – just toss into brine as-is after crushing)
- 1 Tbs. black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary, rolled with rolling pin to release essence/oils
- 1 orange, cut in half
- 1 lemon, cut in half
Dissolve the salt and sugar in one quart of hot water; add garlic, peppercorns, herbs, and brown sugar; stir to blend well. Cool the solution with remaining quart of cold water; add oranges and lemons.
**If brining a full-size trukey instead of just a turkey breast, this bribe recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Unpackage and rinse turkey breast with cool water; place into a two-gallon heavy-duty Ziploc bag that is placed into a very large bowl or container.
Pour the prepared brine mixture over the breast into the bag; use a heavy-duty rubber band to close bag tightly, pulling the bag up as tightly as needed to hold brine around breast. Place turkey breast with brining solution into refrigeration for 8-12 hours. (Exact brining times will vary. Start with eight hours and make changes per your taste.)
Electric Pressure Cooker Method
Place one cup broth into bottom of Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC) pot; add trivet.
Remove breast from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub turkey breast liberally with 1-2 Tbs. canola oil; using your finger tips, rub prepared seasoning all over oiled turkey breast.
Place seasoned breast on top of trivet in EPC pot; lock EPC lid into place and choose High Pressure setting for 40-45 minutes.
When timer sounds, perform a natural pressure release. When all pressure is removed, unlock EPC lid and temp breast using an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into center of breast. The temperature should register 160-165 degrees F.
If turkey breast isn’t fully cooked, lock EPC lid into place again and set for 3-5 minutes on High Pressure setting. When timer sounds, release pressure from EPC and check internal temperature of breast again, making sure it is 160-165 degrees F. at the center.
If you’d like to crisp up the skin of the turkey breast you’ve cooked in the EPC, simply place breast into a shallow roasting pan. Lightly brush breast with a bit of oil or melted butter. Place roasting pan beneath a preheated broiler for a few minutes until breast is a dark golden brown, keeping a close eye on it . Slice breast as desired and serve.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place prepared turkey breast into a greased roasting pan. Roast, uncovered, in preheated oven on center rack for 25-30 minutes, or until very nicely browned.
Remove turkey breast from oven and cover with foil. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and continue to roast covered turkey breast for an additional 30-60 minutes, just until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into center of the breast registers 160 degrees F. and turkey juices run clear.
Remove turkey breast from oven and let rest, covered with foil for 20 minutes before carving.
Let’s Get You Cookin’,
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