Don't burn your house down cooking turkey

Roseville Meat Company, fire chief offer tips
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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With Thanksgiving fast approaching, local experts are offering tips for everything from cooking the perfect turkey to making sure the holiday doesn’t end in a house fire.

One Roseville personality who always fields turkey-related questions this time of year is Joyce Henry, who, along with her husband David, owns Roseville Meat Company on Atlantic Boulevard. From Henry’s perspective, the key to cooking the perfect turkey is in properly heating your oven without over-cooking the actual bird.

“Over-cooking is what tends to go wrong the most,” Henry said. “You absolutely need a good meat thermometer.”

Henry recommends a cooking-time ratio of 12 minutes for every pound of the turkey, at 325 degrees, if the bird is unstuffed. Stuffed turkeys should be cooked at a ratio of 15 minutes for every pound.

“Put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey breast area, and when it hits 160 degrees, pull it out,” Henry said. “You need to let it rest for about 10 minutes.”

One simple seasoning recommendation from Roseville Meat Company is putting a thin coating of olive oil across the bird.

“That makes the skin really crisp up,” Henry explained. “Lemon pepper seasoning is another good way to go. People who want some kick can add a little bit of Cayenne pepper, but the important thing to remember is that seasoning is just meant to complement the meat, not overpower it.”   

One popular seasoning with customers comes from a mix-master in nearby Lincoln. Put out by Cow Camp Seasoning, the Season-All mix is a garlic-pepper blend that has been a hit for chicken and turkey cooking adventures.

“That’s a really great seasoning option from someone who’s local,” Henry said.

While Thanksgiving time can equal relaxing fun, local emergency responders caution that the wrong decisions around turkey cooking can result in serious oven fires and major 3rd degree burns.

“Deep frying turkeys has certainly caused some injuries,” said South Placer Fire District Chief Lawrence Bettencourt. “People have been hit by popping oil when they take the turkey out, or they’ve spilled boiling oil on themselves while trying to get it out of the oven. If you’re cooking a turkey, especially a frozen turkey, another thing you have to look out for is starting a grease fire. Those also tend to happen when people are pulling their turkeys out.”