Ten steps to a picture-perfect turkey

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Every year, the Butterball Test Kitchen staff roasts numerous turkeys to determine the method that will produce the best-tasting, picture-perfect turkey. Time and again, the "Butterball Open Pan Roasting Method" wins hands down. This method virtually guarantees a moist, flavorful, golden turkey. Follow these 10 easy steps to create a picture-perfect turkey:

l. If turkey is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator or cold water. When ready to cook, remove the wrapper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Remove the neck from the body cavity and the giblets from the neck cavity. Drain the juices and blot the cavities with paper towels.

3. Just before roasting, stuff the neck and body cavities lightly, if desired. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. Return legs to tucked position, if untucked. No trussing is necessary.

4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a flat rack in an open roasting pan about 2 inches deep. A handy "Turkey Lifter" comes with each Butterball Turkey. Place this special string cradle on a rack, then place the turkey on top and bring the loops up around the turkey. Do this before putting the turkey in the oven and when lifting the cooked turkey from the pan, use the loops as handles.

5. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh next to the body, not touching the bone.

6. Brush the skin with vegetable oil to prevent skin from drying.

Further basting is unnecessary. 7. Wash preparation utensils, work surfaces and hands in hot, soapy water following contact with uncooked turkey and juices.

8. Roast at 325 degrees F. For approximate cooking times, see roasting time schedule. When the skin is light golden, about ⅔ done, shield the breast loosely with lightweight foil to prevent overcooking.

9. Check for doneness ½ hour before turkey is expected to be done.

Turkey is fully cooked when the thigh's internal temperature is 180 degrees F. The thickest part of breast should read 170 degrees F and the center of the stuffing should be 160 degrees F.

10. When done, let the turkey stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

BUTTERBALL OPEN PAN ROASTING TIME SCHEDULES Following are newly revised cooking times for turkey roasted at 325 degrees F on a flat rack in a shallow open pan, about 2 inches. An extensive Butterball study has revealed that today's turkeys are cooking quicker, making them more convenient for consumers. This schedule should be used as a guideline. Start checking for doneness ½ hour before recommended end times.

Net Weight Unstuffed Stuffed (in pounds) (in hours) (in hours) 10 to 18 3 to 3-½ 3-¾ to 4-½ 18 to 22 3-½ to 4 4-½ to 5 22 to 24 4 to 4-½ 5 to 5-½ 24 to 29 4-½ to 5 5-½ to 6-¼

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