10 Steps to Cooking a Fresh Farm-Raised Turkey

We love birds from Baffoni Poultry Farms in Johnston but there are many farms in Rhode Island offering quality fresh birds at Thanksgiving. Order early to insure availability.
Photography By David Dadekian | September 11, 2013


1.    Turkeys should be cooked within 2–3 days of processing.

2.    Store turkey in the coldest part of your fridge (back lower corners). Double bag it to make sure there is no leakage.

3.    A fresh bird should take 12–15 minutes per pound; using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to tell if your bird is cooked.

4.    Rub the entire bird with herb butter made with dry seasoning (we like dried sage that we pick from our garden, dry and grind), kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh rosemary and softened unsalted butter. Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt and pepper.

5.    Use a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. The rack elevates the bird and helps it cook evenly.

6.    Don’t be a Peeping Tom! Do not keep opening the door to the oven to check the bird. It lowers the heat.

7.    Start by cooking your turkey covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes in a preheated 375°–400° oven. After 25 minutes, drop the temperature to 300° and continue to roast.

8.    When half the total estimated cooking time has passed, check the temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer between the thigh and breast, being careful not to hit the bone.

9.    Baste every 15 minutes during the last 30–45 minutes of cooking time, using the juices accumulated at the bottom of the pan, which will be flavorful if you seasoned properly. (We don’t generally baste. Farm-fresh turkeys do not have the same tendency to dry out as a frozen bird.)

10.    When the bird hits 160°, remove the foil and allow the skin to brown for the last 5° of cooking, which takes about 5–10 minutes (if the turkey is the only item in your oven). Remove the bird from the oven when the thermometer reaches 165°. Let rest, covered loosely in foil, for 15 minutes.

By Easy Entertaining, Inc., Providence

Related Stories & Recipes


  • herb butter made with dry seasoning (i.e. dried sage picked from the garden)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh rosemary
  • softened unsalted butter
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