Can I roast a turkey in a disposable aluminum pan?
Yes, you can but it is not the safest choice. There is danger in getting burned while taking the disposable aluminum pan full of hot turkey from a hot oven. Unless you handle it carefully, it could buckle under the weight of the turkey, sending everything smashing to the floor. Use a sturdy stainless steel, anodized aluminum, or enameled steel (speckled kind from supermarkets) roasting pan which, can be used over and over again. Usually a 16x13 is about the right size for your oven. There needs to be 2 to 3 inches of air space all around—a little more for grabbing handles easily. If you select a roasting pan with handles, make sure the openings are large enough to accommodate hands covered with potholders or oven mitts.
Should I baste the turkey while it cooks?
The purpose of basting is to produce a golden brown, crispy skin. Basting does not produce moisture nor does it improve the flavor of the turkey. Every time you open the oven door, you lose heat from the oven. Heat loss will only increase roasting time so keep the basting to a minimum, during the last hour of cooking.
Is a fresh turkey juicier than a frozen one?
The choice is based on personal preference. With today’s freezing methods, there is no significant difference in quality between a fresh turkey and a frozen one. The moisture loss is minimal. If you like to shop well in advance of cooking the meal, a frozen turkey is your best bet. Make sure the turkey is solidly frozen. By reading the label carefully, you can be sure of getting exactly what you want— stuffed, unstuffed, basted, unbasted, or smoked.
Buy a fresh turkey one to two days before you will be cooking it. Some labels can be helpful by including a sell by date. The sell by date is the last date the store can sell the turkey as fresh. The turkey will maintain optimal quality and safety one to two days after that date. Avoid selecting a turkey that is stacked above the top of the store’s refrigerator case. Remember, once you get your fresh turkey home, refrigerate it right away, and use it within one to two days. Calling the supermarket in advance to reserve your fresh turkey is a good idea.
Does stuffing cooked inside the turkey taste better?
No, not necessarily. Stuffing cooked separately can be just as delicious. And it is safer because if you stuff the turkey there is a risk that the internal temperature of the stuffing will not reach a safe bacteria-killing temperature of 165 degrees or higher. The unstuffed turkey will also cook faster reducing the risk of dried-out, overcooked meat. Using the pan drippings in the stuffing (dressing) will enhance the flavor too.
Source: Frequency Asked Questions about Turkey, Turkey for the Holidays, Illinois Extension