Courtesy of Chef Laura Pensiero, Gigi Trattoria, Rhinebeck, NY.
Farm turkeys generally roast more quickly than the water-filled agribusiness turkeys.
Before cooking, rinse the turkey and the giblets under cold running water. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. A hotter oven can dry out your turkey; a lower temperature risks prolonged time in the "danger zone," which is the temperature range in which bacteria multiply fastest. If you stuff the turkey, put the stuffing into the bird immediately before putting the turkey into the oven.
Preparing Your Turkey:
For turkeys up to 20 pounds, roast for 15 minutes a pound an 18-pound bird should roast for about 4 1/2 hours. Roast larger birds for 12 minutes a pound. A stuffed turkey may require an extra buffer of 30 minutes. Take the temperature of the bird as well as the stuffing. Oven temperatures vary, as do farm-fresh turkeys, so begin checking for doneness about 30 minutes before the turkey is expected to be done.
Testing for Doneness:
Temperature: Deep breast should be 160 to 165 degrees F. Concurrently, thigh temperature should register at 180 to 185 degrees F.
Knife test: Insert a paring knife into the breast and thigh. When the juices run clear not at all pink the turkey is cooked.
Leg separation: When the turkey is adequately cooked, with a light tug, the leg will easily separate from the bird.
When the turkey is done, cool it at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before carving. This lets the meat solidify a bit more and makes for easier and more attractive carving. Refrigerate leftovers no more than 2 hours after removing the turkey from the oven. Wrapped tightly in aluminum foil or freezer-grade plastic, the roasted meat can be frozen.
Storing: A farm-fresh turkey can be stored in a very cold environment 28 to 34 degrees F up to 8 days in advance. Have thermometers on hand for refrigeration and for testing the final doneness of the Thanksgiving centerpiece.
How Many People Your Turkey Will Feed:
6 pounds: 4-6 people
8 pounds: 6-8 people
12 pounds: 8-10 people
15 pounds: 10-12 people
18 pounds: 12-15 people
22 pounds: 15+ people
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