This time of year, the question I’m asked most often is, “How do I cook my Bell & Evans turkey and not ruin it?” There are many schools of thought… low and slow to deep fried. Here is one of my favorite ways to cook our all-natural turkey:
Preheat the oven to 425°F approximately 30 minutes prior to putting the turkey in the oven. (Test your oven regularly to make sure it is calibrated correctly. Some ovens are off as much as 100°.)
Start with a turkey that is at refrigerator temperature. The colder it is when placed in the oven, the longer the roasting time. (If you’re starting with a frozen turkey, follow the thawing instructions on the package.)Rinse the turkey inside and out, then pat dry.
If you choose, stuff the cavity and truss the legs. Do not stuff ahead of time and make sure the stuffing is thoroughly cooked before placing it in the turkey. If you choose not to stuff, rub the cavity with salt and pepper.
Cut cheesecloth to a length that will cover the turkey and unfold to a single thickness.
Melt 1/2lb. butter in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp. each of dried sage, thyme, marjoram and crushed rosemary. Place the cheesecloth in the pan and saturate completely.
Place the turkey, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan and put in the oven. (The type of pan determines roasting time, the deeper the pan the longer the roasting time.)
Reduce the temperature to 325°F. After 15 minutes, completely cover the turkey with the butter and herb-soaked cheesecloth. After an hour, baste the turkey with the remaining butter mixture every 15 minutes to keep the cheesecloth moist.
Roasting times will vary depending on the size of the bird and whether it’s stuffed. (Refer to the package for more instructions.)
For a crispy skin, remove the cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Although our birds have pop-up timers, we suggest you use a meat thermometer, placed in the thickest part of the thigh. When the internal temperature reaches 178°, remove the turkey from the oven.
Allow the turkey to rest on the counter for about 20 minutes before carving. This allows time for the juices to be absorbed evenly and the meat will be much easier to slice. Now all that’s left is to enjoy with family and friends.
Our Bell & Evans family wishes you and your family the happiest of holidays.