When shopping for a holiday bird, what should customers look for to ensure that their meat is ethically and sustainably raised?
Whenever possible, the best way to ensure that your meat is ethically and sustainably raised is to purchase from a farmer in your local community that specializes in pasture production. If you can put eyes on a farm and talk to your farmer, you can verify whether or not they market with integrity.
What are some common mistakes that people make when roasting a bird at home?
The best way to enjoy a home-cooked turkey is to make sure you’ve got a good fit between your oven capacity and the size of your bird. A bird weighing up to 20-25 pounds will easily fit into a roasting pan in your oven and allow enough air space around the bird to produce a good outcome.
We sell fresh holiday birds, but if you have a frozen bird, make sure you allow two to three days for thawing in the fridge before cooking. And if you love stuffing as much as I do, it’s a good idea to cook it in a separate baking pan instead of roasting it in the bird since it affects cook times.
Do you have any advice for how to avoid a dry, tough end result when cooking a bird?
Brining poultry yields a flavor-packed punch and it alters the meat structure so it stays more moist while cooking. It’s a little extra work, but the process is simple and it’s totally worth it. We provide a brine bag with our birds, but you can also find them in grocery stores around the holidays.
Start by dissolving 2 cups of kosher salt and ½ cup sugar in 2 gallons of cool water. Next, put the thawed, bagged turkey in a roasting pan and pour the liquid over the bird. Refrigerate the brined turkey for 12 hours. Next, you’ll dump the brine and toss the bag. Return the turkey to the clean roasting pan and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours to let the skin dry. I like rubbing plenty of butter under and on top of the skin just before roasting it.
What are the most important factors to keep in mind when roasting? (temperature, seasonings, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and plan to roast your bird for 13 minutes per pound of unstuffed turkey. Loosely cover the bird with aluminum foil at first to keep the skin from getting dark too fast and remove it about halfway through the cooking process.
Check the temperature about three-fourths of the way through that time, and then again every 10 minutes, and roast until the thermometer reads 150 degrees when checked at the thickest part of the thigh meat and the thickest part of the breast meat. To kill all bacteria, a turkey must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
As it rests, the temperature will then continue to rise to around 180 degrees. For juicier meat, however, some people prefer to take the bird out at 150 degrees, so the temperature will rise only to 165 degrees as it rests.
What are some of your favorite spices and herbs to use when roasting a bird?
My go-to poultry seasoning is thyme, garlic powder, smoked paprika, dry ground mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, a touch of cayenne, salt, and pepper mixed with butter and rubbed under the skin. Acme, ospreyhillfarm.com