How to Cook an Unstuffed Turkey

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When cooking an unstuffed turkey, it is important to clean out the gizzards and neck and pat the bird dry. Prepare a whole plain turkey with help from a professional chef in this free video on cooking techniques.

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Hi, I'm Michelle Karam, with Dishes by Michelle, in Los Angeles, California. I'm here today to talk to you about how to cook an unstuffed turkey. The first thing you need to know is when you take your turkey out of the plastic wrapping, inside of it, there's going to be a turkey neck, and there's going to be turkey gizzards or giblets, is what they're called. They're located inside the cavity. One is located at the head portion of the cavity, so let's go ahead and take that out. And, those are the gizzards, which are so neatly packaged as a nice little present for us for later use, and also, the turkey neck. The next thing we're going to do, is we're going to turn on the water, and we're going to rinse our turkey. And, you want to make sure you just give it a nice rinse, and you get the inside of the cavity as well. Get all around and under the bird. Turn it off, and make sure you drain out all of that excess water that's in there. The next thing you want to do, is you want to take your paper towels, and you want to make sure that you pat dry your turkey. The reason why you do this is because if you were to put this turkey in with all of this water and moisture on it, once you've tented it, it would create a lot of steam in your oven, and you would have what's better known as a soggy turkey instead of a nice, crisp, golden brown one. So, the next thing you want to do is you want to take your turkey that's been thoroughly rinsed and dried, and move it to the roasting pan. Always make sure after you've handled the turkey and touched it, go to your sink, wash your hands, because cross contamination and salmonella is something to really be concerned about when working with raw poultry. The next thing you want to do, is you want to take a pastry brush, and I have some vegetable oil over here, and I'm just going to lightly dip it in here, and I'm going to start brushing the outside of the bird. And, you want to make sure you get all of this bird covered with oil. The next thing we're going to do is we're going to take some salt, and we're just going to go ahead and sprinkle the outside of the bird, and make sure that he is well seasoned, or she, but this one's a he. So, here we go. Now that we have it well salted, we want to go ahead and take our meat thermometer, and we want to insert this into the deepest portion of the bird, which happens to be upper thigh. You want to make sure, when you insert it, not to touch the bone, because it will give you an inaccurate reading, because the bone is the portion that does tend to get the hottest the fastest. So, now that we've inserted our meat thermometer, we're ready to get this bird into the oven. So, you want to loosely tent the bird to make sure that you still have some space, so that it's not touching, so that when you take it off, you don't take off that beautiful golden skin that you're working so hard to achieve on this perfect bird. So, here we have our bird, covered, ready to go into the oven. A general rule of thumb when cooking a turkey is, you want to cook it on 325 degrees. The best way to figure out if your turkey is done, is remember to check your oven thermometer. That's why it's there. When it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll know your turkey is perfectly golden crisp brown on the outside, and moist and juicy on the inside. So, our turkey's been cooking for about an hour now, and I'm going to take it out of the oven, and remove the foil, and give it a basting. Let's get some of those juices, and just pour it on top. And, already, you can see there's bits on the bottom that are creating some good flavors down there. So, now we're just going to go ahead and put this bird back in the oven. I checked the temperature, and it's at 180 degrees on the dot, which means my turkey is beautiful and perfectly cooked. It is juicy, golden brown, and this is just a gorgeous bird. You want to let it sit for fifteen minutes before you go ahead and carve it. This way, all of the juices go right back into the turkey, it stays moist. Because, if you take it out right now, and you start carving, all those beautiful juices are going to escape. You want them to slowly be absorbed back into the bird, so that when you do carve it, it's that moist, plump, juicy, tasty turkey that you were shooting for from the get go. I'm Michelle Karam with Dishes by Michelle, and this was how to cook an unstuffed turkey. Thanks for watching.

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