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Basic guidelines for the holiday bird or roast.

The star of most holiday dinners is the roast, whether it be a big whole turkey for a crowd or a small boneless lamb loin for 6. Here we give you charts and guidelines to basic roasting. Cook roasts plain or--when very lean or trimmed of fat--brush them with a little oil or melted butter. Add flavor by brushing with a baste (to avoid burning, use sauces with sweetness only during the last quarter of cooking) or rubbing with herbs, seeds, or spices.




For best results, we strongly recommend you use a meat thermometer. Because birds of the same weight often have different conformations, cooking times are only a guide (for example, unstuffed 10-lb. birds can take a little longer to cook than unstuffed 12-lb. birds). Be sure to check birds under 12 pounds at least 30 minutes before the time given below. Check larger birds at least 1 hour ahead, then every 15 minutes.

Stuffing adds somewhat to cooking times; expect small birds to take up to 30 minutes longer, larger ones up to 50 minutes longer. You can make stuffings ahead, but to avoid food poisoning never stuff a bird until you're ready to put it in the oven and never let stuffing cool in the turkey; remove stuffing while bird is still hot.

Pull off fat lumps and discard. Release legs if trussed. Remove giblets, rinse bird, and pat dry. Fold wing tips under turkey back. Stuff if desired, filling breast and body cavity (see chart at left for amounts); skewer skin over stuffing to hold in place.

Set on a V-shaped rack in a rimmed pan at least 2 inches larger on all sides than bird. Brush with melted butter or olive oil; add salt and pepper before or after cooking.

If you start roasting the turkey breast down, the back will have better color and flavor; some also believe the breast will be moister. A hot turkey is slippery and heavy, so have someone help when you turn the bird over the finish roasting breast up.

Let the cooked bird rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

These cooking times produce moist breast meat, but thighs may be pinker at hip joint than you like. Cut and check when you first take the bird from the oven. If desired, cut off the legs now or when you carve at the table; put them in a pan and bake in a 450[degrees] oven for 10 to 15 minutes more, then carve and serve.


Trim roast of fat and tie, if specified, for uniform shapes that roast evenly. To determine temperature for boneless roasts, insert a thermometer in the middle of the thickest section of meat. For bone-in roasts, insert the thermometer through the thickest part until it touches the center bone. Always check after about half the estimated cooking time, in case your oven is running hotter than the thermostat indicates.

Rinse meat; pat dry. Season as desired. Place on rack, fattiest side up.

Let cooked roasts stand at least 20 minutes before carving so hot juices can settle back into the meat.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Holiday Entertaining special section
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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