Monday, November 12, 2012
Turkey 101(and Pork too)
Having whetted my taste buds with W.A.Bean and Son's smoked products, I feel compelled to tell you that this chef will be enjoying Bean's Smoked Whole Turkey this year. I know many of you are hesitant about changing turkeys in mid-stream, and I fully understand you stubborn lot, us Yankees don't sell our soul easily. But at least give it a try sometime. The Smoked Whole Turkey and Turkey Breasts(along with individual chickens)are fully cooked. All you have to do is tightly cover with foil and bake. I will give you the instructions and tips below. The only drawback is that I wouldn't recommend stuffing the bird itself before baking. The smoky flavor will immerse itself throughout the stuffing and it's nice to have those different flavors melding together instead of one through.
If you don't care to change right now, Bean's also offers whole turkeys for sale and their price is aligned with all the supermarkets, and you know they are as fresh as you are going to get.
Let me give you some insight and recipes for you and your culinary adventure regardless of where you get your turkey this year.
Let's start with how much meat per person:
Now with the thawing of the bird.
For thawing in the refrigerator:
For thawing in cold water:
Cooking Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey
Preheat your oven to 325-degrees F. This is the optimum temperature for cooking turkey because it doesn't significantly alter the cooking time(as opposed to 350-degrees F.) and it helps to keep the skin from browning. Remove your turkey from the package and drain very well. Place the turkey on a rack in a high-sided(at least 2-inches) roasting pan.
As for the wings. There just is no need to fold the wings back and tie them. some chefs will tell you this stabilizes the turkey while others tell you it keeps the wing tips from burning. How about a raise of hands here, who eats the tips of the wings? Thought so.....
If you aren't basting with your own marinade, then you can brush the skin with oil if you want, but I find this to be just a complete waste of time. They say it helps the skin from drying out. All I know, is that everyone I know loves to eat the skin when it IS dried out and crispy. I do, however, advocate covering the drumsticks and thighs with tin foil when the turkey is about 3/4 of the way through with cooking. Being I am a dark meat kind of guy, I am turned off by dry leg or thigh meat when I sit down to the table. I am one of the very few who enjoys that large turkey leg on my plate but most of the time, the cook pays no heed to this part of the turkey, giving me a dried up ol' leg that's chewier than Charlie Chaplins shoe.
Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle but not touching the bone. When thigh is up to temperature and if turkey is stuffed, move thermometer to center of stuffing. Stuffing should be 165 degrees F when done.
Use this roasting schedule as a guide and start checking for doneness about 30 minutes before end of recommended cooking times. Lift roasted turkey onto platter with turkey lifter if you have one and discard lifter. If not, use very sturdy spaghetti forks. Before removing stuffing and carving, let your turkey stand 15 minutes to allow juices to set. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperatures:
180 degrees F deep in the thigh. At this temperature juices should be clear, not reddish pink, when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.
165 degrees F in the center of the stuffing, if turkey is stuffed.
Net Weight (lb.) Unstuffed (hrs.) Stuffed (hrs.)
4½ to 7 2 to 2½ 2¼ to 2¾
7 to 9 2½ to 3 2¾ to 3½
9 to 18 3 to 3½ 3¾ to 4½
18 to 22 3½ to 4 4½ to 5
22 to 24 4 to 4½ 5 to 5½
24 to 30 4½ to 5 5½ to 6¼
(Bean's Whole Smoked Turkeys run in at 8-10 lbs.)
Now for the Fully Cooked, Smoked Whole Turkeys I mentioned in my long-winded intro.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove wrapper. DO NOT STUFF. Follow the directions as listed above for Cooking Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey. Place your turkey in the pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F and heat until hot (140 degrees F).
For Smoked Turkey: Cover pan completely with foil for the entire cooking time. Use the roasting schedule below as a guide and start checking for doneness about 30 minutes before end of recommended cooking times. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees deep in the thigh. Carve and serve immediately.
Net Weight (lb.) Smoked Thawed (hrs.)
8 to 10 1¼ to 1¾
10 to 16 1½ to 2
16 to 18 2 to 2½
Whole Turkey Breast
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove whole breast from bag. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. Place prepared breast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan. Roast uncovered according to time guidelines below or until meat thermometer in thickest part of muscle reaches 170 degrees F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165 degrees F.
Roasting time will vary from guidelines above if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.
Size (lb.) Time
3 to 5½ 1½ to 2¼
5½ to 9 2¼ to 2¾
You may roast your whole turkey breast from a frozen state as well. In that case:
Roast skin side down, uncovered, on a flat rack in a 2-inch deep open roasting pan at 325 degrees F for the first hour. Let breast stand 10 minutes before carving.
Size (lb.) Unstuffed (hrs.)
3 to 5½ 3 to 3¾
5½ to 9 3¾ to 4½
Fully Cooked Smoked Whole Turkey Breast
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove whole breast from bag. DO NOT STUFF. Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Heat until warm. Carve and serve immediately.
Size (lb.) Baked (hrs.) Smoked (hrs.)
4 to 7 1½ to 1¾ 1¼ to 1¾
(Bean's Smoked Turkey Breast weighs in about 3-4 lbs.)
Lest we forget Pork
Porks' cooking times have changed so many times over the years, it is hard for the consumer to keep up. Because today's pork is so lean, overcooking is detrimental to this great white meat. The Dept. of Agriculture now recommends cooking pork roasts, tenderloins and chops to an internal temperature of 145-degrees F. Allow it to rest for 3 minutes before cutting into this savory loin. this reference is for a 350-degree F oven.
For Bone-In and Boneless Pork Loin Roast, cook for 20 minutes to the lb. for a 2-5 lb. roast, or 145-degrees F.
Crown Roast, cook for 12 minutes to the lb..