Should You Baste Your Turkey?
Stop, You're Doing It Wrong! 5 Things NOT to Do to Your Turkey
Before you begin cooking your holiday turkey, there are a few tips you ought to consider from the turkey experts over at Butterball. Be warned: many of these may go against your family's tradition!
Don't cook a frozen (or partially frozen turkey)! Your turkey must be thoroughly thawed before it enters the oven. Try the quick-thaw method if you're under the gun, but FIY, even the quick method can take upwards of eight hours.
Don't baste it! I know this goes against everything generations before you may have said, but basting the bird just cools down the oven and makes the turkey take longer to reach the right temperature. The turkey skin will brown, so long as you brushed it with oil or butter before putting in the oven. Butterball says turkey skin is like a raincoat and the drippings just drip right off, anyway. So why bother basting? The drippings can be used for the gravy.
Don't open the oven repeatedly. It's so tempting to check on the bird, but use the oven light for that. Position the turkey and the oven-safe thermometer in such a way that you can read the temperature through the window. However, if your oven doesn't have a window (or you don't have an oven-safe thermometer), there's always simple math. Calculate the amount of time it will take you to cook the bird, and rely on a timer. There's only one real food safety check you should do, and that's after four hours of cooking (in a 325°F oven), the bird should reach an internal temperature of 135°F.
Don't leave the turkey on the bone. Yes, you can present the bird at the table after it's come out of the oven, but scurry back to the kitchen and then, carve the entire turkey off the bone and serve the slices. The reason is explained below.
Don't leave the turkey out for longer than two hours! This is totally unintuitive, but bacteria begins to breed after the turkey has been out for longer than two hours. You want to carve the turkey off the bone, so it has a chance to cool before putting it in the fridge. Otherwise, the residual heat from the bones keeps the turkey meat at a dreaded danger zone for hours, even if it's put in the fridge.