Are you wondering if you can leave a turkey uncovered in the refrigerator?
You might see in lots of recipes that you should let your turkey dry out in the fridge.
But that would involve leaving it uncovered.
Below you see why this creates a better-tasting turkey and exactly how to do it safely.
Can You Leave A Turkey Uncovered In The Refrigerator?
You can refrigerate an uncovered turkey. However, there are some food safety factors to consider.
You should always store raw meat on the bottom shelf. If any of the raw turkey juice leaks, it shouldn’t be able to contaminate any other food.
Disinfect the refrigerator afterwards for best results.
If a frozen turkey is in the fridge, you may notice extra liquid pooling around the turkey. Place the turkey in a deep pan and remove the liquids as needed.
Make sure that none of the shelves above the turkey are dirty. This will prevent unwanted crumbs from getting into the turkey.
Check that the temperature is set to a number below 40°F.
Should You Leave A Turkey Uncovered In The Refrigerator?
Refrigerating an uncovered turkey will result in crispier skin.
It is common practice to refrigerate an uncovered turkey without bringing it. This will dry out the skin, resulting in crispy skin.
Some people will leave the turkey uncovered while bringing it. A thawed turkey should only be in the fridge for a day or two.
Drying out the turkey in a fridge is crucial if you plan to deep fry it.
Spatchcock the turkey for maximum skin exposure to dry air. This is a great idea if crispy skin is your goal.
How To Dry Brine A Turkey
Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and cover it in kosher salt.
Let it sit in the fridge for a day or two before cooking it. We recommend at least 60 minutes per pound of turkey.
Kosher salt is best for a dry brine. However, you can add black pepper, garlic powder, or brown sugar. A lot of people like to use their favorite dried herbs to add extra flavor.
The dry brining method is pretty simple and will result in crispy skin.
How To Wet Brine A Turkey
Soak the turkey in a bucket full of water and salt solution, or wet brine. Put this bucket in the refrigerator until it is time to cook the turkey.
Some people may add apple juice or other flavorful liquids. A lot of people will season it with aromatic spices and fresh herbs.
The wet brining method has a few faults. Most refrigerators don’t have enough room for this bucket.
Also, splashing the raw meat in water can easily spread bacteria.
Should You Brine A Turkey?
You should bring a turkey if you want a flavorful bird with crisp skin.
Brining may be a hassle, but is well worth it in the end.
If you don’t have time to bring a turkey, that’s fine, too. Many turkeys already have a saline solution and do not need to be brined.
How To Cook A Turkey
Whether you’re cooking a fresh turkey or a frozen bird, the rules are about the same.
Prepare The Turkey
Completely thaw the turkey. The best way to do this is to put it in the fridge for a few days.
If you are short on time, you can submerge it in cold water or defrost it in the microwave. Never thaw the turkey in hot water or at room temperature.
Once the turkey is thawed, you can bring it or dry out the skin. When it is time to cook the turkey, add any seasonings you enjoy.
You can cook the turkey in an oven, on a grill, in a smoker, or even in a deep fryer. The possibilities are endless.
If you are roasting the turkey in an oven, place it on a rimmed baking sheet on the middle roasting rack.
It will take about 13 minutes per pound at 350°F. Calculate a longer cooking time for lower oven temperatures.
Once you estimate the cooking time, wait. Do not check on the turkey until it should be about ready. This will only increase the cooking time.
Check the internal temperature. If it is at 165°F, it is safe to eat.
Remove the turkey from the heat source and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Carve the turkey and serve it. You may want to use some of the turkey drippings to make homemade turkey gravy.
Refrigerate the leftover turkey within 2 hours. If you have a lot of pounds of turkey, you can even freeze the cooked meat.
Use a microwave to reheat it when you’re ready to eat the turkey leftovers.
How To Check Temperature In A Turkey
Use an instant-read thermometer at the thickest portion of the bird. Do not let the meat thermometer touch the bone.
It is good practice to check the turkey temperature in multiple places. If the lowest reading is 165°F, then it is safe to eat.
Many people like to cook dark meat for a bit longer. The dark meat can cook to 180°F and still taste delicious.
Do not let the breast meat cook much past 165°F. This will result in overcooked and dry meat.
If you follow these directions, you’ll have the perfect bird to serve to your guests. The brining process may be extra work, but you’ll appreciate the result.
The tender meat of the juicy bird will have everyone’s mouths watering. The crispy golden skin will be the perfect final touch!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with the boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
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