It’s almost Thanksgiving, that wonderful time of year for friends and family, football and the Macy’s Parade. Then there’s the food – the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the veggies, the cranberry sauce, and the desserts. And the star of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the turkey.
Here are nine tips for an awesome turkey.
- When determining the right size turkey to get, calculate 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person. Don’t forget about the bones. They are usually just a couple of pounds. For example, 8 people will need a turkey of 12 to 14 pounds. When choosing a turkey, either fresh or frozen, be sure to choose one that looks healthy and well-fed in the weight range that you need.
- By placing carrots, celery, and onions on the bottom of the roasting pan, you can build a natural roasting rack for your turkey. When you lift the turkey off the bottom of the pan, it improves the flow of hot air around the bird. It makes it crispy all around. Also, the vegetables give the gravy a nice taste.
- Brining is the secret for moisture and flavor in the turkey. And lucky us, even simple recipes can get very good results! The base of a normal brine solution is a mixture of water, sugar, salt, and a variety of spices and aromatics.
- In many Thanksgiving recipes, the stuffing goes inside of the turkey’s cavity. If you have a good family recipe that works for you, perfect, although some people recommend cooking the stuffing in a separate pan.
- You’ve probably seen many turkeys with string tying their wings and legs together. Even though many skilled chefs like to do that to cook the bird evenly, it isn’t something you need to do to get a good turkey. If you want to explore your cooking skills, you can also explore tucking the wings underneath the turkey and tying them with string. (Unflavored dental floss is a popular alternative to string).
- Before you put the turkey in the oven, dry the skin as much as possible. Then apply a layer of oil or butter around it – even under the skin for extra moisture!
- When you frequently baste your turkey, you have to regularly open and close the oven door. The temperature fluctuations can affect the cooking process. If you want to keep the bird moist, brine it or rub on oil or butter.
- Investing in a good meat thermometer is very important for cooking a turkey. To avoid opening the oven door, you can even buy a thermometer that has a built-in alarm. Just insert it into the thickest part of the thigh or breast. If it reads 161-165 degrees F, you can take the turkey out of the oven. The bird will continue to cook even when it rests, and the temperature should rise about 10 degrees.
- Let the turkey rest after it’s cooked. Take a large piece of tin foil or big mixing bowl to cover the turkey for 15 to 20 minutes before you start carving. This will help to seal in the juices. Just make sure not to cover it too tightly to avoid steaming the turkey.
The Perfect Turkey Recipe: Oven Roasted Turkey (10 to 12 servings)
You will need:
- 1 frozen young turkey (18-20 lbs)
For the brine:
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
- 1 gallon of vegetable stock
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
For the aromatics:
- Canola oil
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 sliced red apple
- 1/2 sliced onion
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves of sage
Two to three days before roasting:
- Start defrosting the turkey at 38 degrees F in the refrigerator or in a cooler.
- Mix the vegetable stock, peppercorns, brown sugar, salt, candied ginger and allspice berries in a large pot. Cook it on medium-high heat. It’s important to stir it from time to time to dissolve the solids and bring the brine to boil. Then, remove the brine from the heat. Let it cool down to room temperature and refrigerate.
The night before or early on the day that you will eat:
- Add the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon container. Remove the insides of the thawed turkey and place it on the breast side in the brine. You might need to weigh down the turkey to make sure it’s completely underwater. Fill the bucket and refrigerate for 8 to 16 hours, flipping the bird halfway through the brine.
- Preheat the oven to 500° F. Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse with cold water in and out. You can throw away the brine.
- Put the turkey inside a half sheet pan on a roasting rack. Dry the bird by press the bird with paper towels.
- Mix the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water. On the microwave on high, warm the mix for 5 minutes. Be sure to use a microwave-safe dish. Add steep aromatics together with the rosemary and sage to the cavity of the turkey. Curl the wings under the bird. Cover the skin with canola oil liberally.
- Place the turkey on the bottom rack of the oven. Roast it for 30 minutes at 500 degrees F. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F. If you can, set the thermometer alarm to 161 degrees F, or check it once in a while. Before carving, loosely cover the turkey with foil (or a large bowl) and let it rest for 15 minutes.
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