Turkey is an excellent, low-fat choice for your meal. However, self-basting turkeys have been injected with fat under the skin, so it’s best to avoid these kinds. A 12 lb. turkey will serve 12 adults, with leftovers. Take a look at some more turkey tips below:
Never defrost turkey on the kitchen counter. Instead, place the turkey in its original wrappings on a tray in the refrigerator and calculate 24 hours for each 5 lbs. of turkey. If it is not completely thawed when you are ready to prepare it, place the wrapped turkey into a sink filled with ice-cold water. Be sure to replace the cold water every half hour.
For maximum flavor, season the turkey a day or two before cooking it. Squeeze the juice from two oranges over the defrosted turkey, as well as inside its cavity. Then, lift the skin and rub the meat with fresh garlic and your favorite herbs and spices. Place additional slices of orange under the turkey skin to keep the turkey moist during cooking. The turkey can be seasoned, covered and refrigerated for up to two days.
Roast the turkey on a V-shaped rack in a shallow roasting pan so that the drippings can drain away during cooking. Lightly spray the rack and pan with nonstick cooking spray. If using a disposable foil pan, buy the heavy-duty kind. Place the roasting pan on a baking sheet to provide support so you won ’t burn yourself trying to remove it from the oven.
To prevent breast meat from drying out during cooking, cover turkey loosely with a foil tent. Remove the foil during the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking so the turkey will brown. Roast the turkey with its skin on to keep the meat from drying out, and instead of using the fatty drippings, baste turkey with fat-free broth or fruit juice (orange, cranberry or apple) during cooking. Start roasting it breast-side down, then turn it breast-side up for the last half hour. Remove the skin when serving.
Test for doneness: Insert an instant-read or meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the turkey’s inner thigh muscle. The temperature on the thermometer should read 175° to 180°F when the turkey is completely cooked. A 10 to 12 lb. turkey, without stuffing, will take about 3 to 3 1/2 hours to cook at 350°F. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil to keep it warm and let it stand for 20 minutes for easier slicing. An electric knife makes carving easier. If you remove the skin before serving, you will save about 5 grams of fat per three-ounce portion. White meat, without the skin, is the lowest in fat.
Leftovers: Leftover turkey can be stored for a day or two in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for 4 to 6 months. Remove meat from the carcass; refrigerate or freeze it in meal-sized packages. Be sure to label and date the packages. The turkey carcass can be used to make a terrific turkey broth. Place the carcass in a large pot, cover with water, add cut-up onions, celery and carrots, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt and pepper.
You can use the broth and some of the leftover turkey to make a terrific Turkey Chowder (there is a recipe for broth, too)!
THE RIGHT STUFF
This year, don’t stuff the turkey – or yourself! Instead, bake the stuffing in a separate casserole so it won’t absorb the fatty drippings from the turkey during cooking.
Add some broth or water to the roasting pan and scrape up the browned particles from the bottom. Pour the pan juices into a gravy separator – the fat will rise to the top. Pour out the fat-free liquid from the spout at the bottom of the cup. If you don’t have a gravy separator, pour the pan juices into a container and place it in the freezer while you let the turkey rest before carving it. The solid fat that congeals on the top of the pan juices can be skimmed off and discarded. If desired, add a little cornstarch to the
defatted pan juices, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened.