Cooking Instructions

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Cooking A Sullivan Farm Pasture-Raised Turkey

Most store bought turkeys are injected with vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifiers, sodium phosphate, and artificial flavorings. Pasture raised free range turkey, on the other hand, has not been basted or injected. You may want to consider preparing your turkey in a brine like most chefs. Brine is a saltwater and seasoning solution that allows moisture to penetrate the meat.

Even a slightly overcooked turkey will be moist and juicy when prepared in brine. Brine also expedites cooking time, since water is a better conductor of heat than meat. Brine can be made from your favorite herbs and seasonings. Here is a basic recipe to get you started:

Basic Brine Ingredients:

1 cup sea salt
1 gallon filtered water
1 cup raw sugar or honey (optional)
1 bunch fresh sage (optional)
1 bunch fresh thyme (optional)
3 tablespoons black pepper (optional)

Basic Brine Instructions:

Bring all ingredients to a boil; remove from heat and refrigerate.
Place thawed turkey in a deep roasting pan that is large enough to allow most of the turkey to be submerged in the brine, or use a commercially available brining bag . We use a 5 gallon food grade plastic bucket. If you use just the pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (or put in an ice chest if your refrigerator is full). Turn the turkey in brine every few hours if it is not fully submerged. Keep turkey in brine for 12-24 hours.

Preparing the Turkey for Cooking

When it is time to cook the turkey, lift it out of the brine, rinse with cold water and dry with paper towels. Slide a small rubber spatula between the skin and the meat to separate them. Insert half of the herbed butter mixture (recipe below) under the skin and spread evenly. Rub the remaining butter mixture on the outside of the skin. If you wish, fill the body cavity with stuffing. Truss the bird loosely with butchers twine, season with salt and pepper, and pace in roasting pan. Add 1 cup stock and roast until internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165˚ degrees. The turkey should be loosely covered with foil for part of the cooking time to help retain moisture. The foil should be removed for the last 45 minutes or so of cooking so the skin can be beautifully browned and crisp by the time the turkey is done. Be sure to baste the turkey often with juices from the bottom of the pan.

Herbed Butter:

8 tablespoons softened unsalted real butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped shallots (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)

Roasting Times at 325˚ F

When estimating how long to cook your turkey, figure about 12 to 15 minutes per pound and then monitor until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees (measured with your meat thermometer). Oven temperatures and individual birds will vary, so it’s important to rely on internal temperature rather than cooking time.

Note: Pastured birds often cook a little faster than conventional turkeys, so monitor closely with a meat thermometer.

TURKEY THAWING DIRECTIONS

Refrigerator Thawing

Thaw breast side up, in an unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge. Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 lbs.

Cold Water Thawing

Thaw breast side down, in an unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover your turkey completely. Change water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled. Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per lb.

BASIC ROAST TURKEY DIRECTIONS

Follow these simple instructions for a fresh or thawed turkey:

When buying turkeys under 12 pounds, allow about 3/4 pound per serving. For heavier turkeys (12 pounds and over) allow about 1/2 pound per serving.

Preheat oven to 325˚ F Remove turkey from wrapper, drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. Rub cavity of turkey lightly with salt if desired.

Fasten neck skin to back with skewer. Fold wings across back with tips touching. Tuck drumsticks under band of skin at tail or tie together with heavy string, then tie to tail.

Place turkey breast side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with shortening, oil, margarine or butter. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of inside thigh muscle or thickest part of breast meat and does not touch bone. Do not add water. Do not cover.

Place turkey in oven. Follow Timetable (below) for approximate total cooking time. Place a tent of aluminum foil loosely over turkey when it begins to turn golden. When 2/3 done, cut band of skin or string holding legs.

Tip: If you don’t have a rack, crunch aluminum foil into a coil or use vegetables like carrots to keep your turkey off the bottom of the pan.

 

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)
Weight Cooking Time Cooking Time
Unstuffed Stuffed
4½-7 lbs. 2-2½ hrs. 2¼-2¾ hrs.
7-9 lbs. 2½-3 hrs. 2¾-4½ hrs.
9-18 lbs. 3-3½ hrs. 3¾-4½ hrs.
18-22 lbs. 3½-4 hrs. 4½-5 hrs.
22-24 lbs. 4-4½ hrs. 5-5½ hrs.
24-30 lbs. 4½-5 hrs. 5½-6¼ hrs.

 

 

Cooking in a Convection Oven (325°F)
Weight Cooking Time Cooking Time
Unstuffed Stuffed
6-10 lbs. 1½ -2 hrs. 1¾-2½ hrs.
10-18 lbs. 2-2½ hrs. 2½-3¼ hrs.
18-22 lbs. 2½-3 hrs. 3¼-3¾ hrs.
22-24 lbs. 3-3½ hrs. 3¾-4¼ hrs.