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Healthy Cooking Tips for Roast Turkey

Roasting a big holiday turkey can be tricky. If you are roasting a turkey that is small and easy to handle it is best to start roasting it breast side down, and turn it breast side up after about 1 hours. Juices from the dark meat flow down through the breast and moistens it. If you are roasting a large turkey it is too difficult to turn, especially when it is stuffed. One way to avoid ending up with a dry breast is to pack it in ice before roasting so it is much colder than the rest of the bird. That way when you roast it entirely with the breast up it cooks slower and there is much less chance of it over cooking and drying out. The oven temperature should be set to 400°F. Tent the breast with foil until there is about 1 hours left of roasting time. If the breast reads 125°F internal temperature at its thickest part and it is not sufficiently brown, turn the oven heat up 25 degrees. If it is getting too brown turn the oven heat down to 350°F to slow down the browning.

Plan on roasting your stuffed turkey about 30 minutes per lb total.

Simmer your neck and giblets (not the liver) with water, onions, carrots, and celery instead of using the fat from the turkey for a healthier way of making your gravy.

If you want to add some of the drippings from the turkey pan skim off as much fat as possible. Use just enough to enhance flavor, so you avoid too much fat. Also if you choose to add dried porcini mushrooms to your gravy simmer them in the beginning with the vegetables for an hour. You will get a lot of flavor from them. You can either discard them with the rest of the vegetables or chop them and add back to the gravy.

For more details on roasting a turkey, please see our recipe for Holiday Turkey.