As much as we love sides and decadent desserts, the true star of a holiday feast is almost always the turkey. While roasting a turkey can seem intimidating, there are a few essential tools that will help keep the process straightforward, and the resulting turkey perfectly juicy and full of flavour.
While there are other methods for cooking a turkey (it can be grilled or deep-fried), our favourite method is to roast it in the oven. It’s probably the most straightforward way to cook a turkey; just keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the size of the bird and whether the bird is stuffed or not. Here are the must-have tools for roasting a turkey (plus a couple of bonus items).
1. Roasting pan.
A large roasting pan is essential for roasting a turkey; be sure to have one that is big enough for the bird you plan to buy. For a smaller turkey (3-6 kg) you’ll need a medium roasting pan, while for a large turkey (9-11 kg) you’ll need an extra-large pan. Keep in mind that turkeys are heavy: for optimal safety when moving the pan in and out of the oven, opt for a roasting pan with thick, large handles.
2. Roasting rack.
Roasting the turkey on a wire rack is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, it lets air circulate around the bird, allowing it to cook evenly. In addition, the rack allows the juices to drip to the bottom of the pan; keeping the turkey suspended above the liquid means it will roast, rather than stew.
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3. Meat thermometer.
The only accurate way to ensure a turkey is safe to eat is to use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. To measure the temperature, remove the turkey from the oven and stick the instant-read thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh, once it reaches a steady 165F, it’s done. As the bird rests, the temperature will continue to rise, usually to around 180F.
4. Carving set.
Once you’ve roasted the bird to perfection with a crispy and golden skin, it’s important to let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. To make easy work of turkey carving, be sure to have a sharp carving knife and fork. Not sure how to carve a turkey properly? Watch our how-to below.
Some recipes may call for basting the bird while it cooks; this technique is used to ensure moist and tender meat with a golden, crispy skin. Using a baster will make this step a little bit easier as it makes quick work of collecting the drippings from the bottom of the pan. Opt for a baster that comes with a cleaning brush, as these tools can be tricky to clean. Try this technique with our best ever turkey recipe. Tip: If you don’t have a baster, you can always use a spoon to pour juices over the bird as it cooks.
Extra-large cutting board
Carving a turkey inside the roasting pan is challenging, so it’s ideal to find a large enough surface to carve your turkey. Opt for an extra-large cutting board with a groove around the edges, as this will catch all the juices that do escape, saving you the extra clean up. (Bonus: catching those juices allows you to add them to your gravy for extra flavour.)
Now that you’ve roasted it, it’s time to carve it! Here’s how to do it: