Thanksgiving Turkey Tips
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you may be feeling the pressure. After all, this holiday is all about the food – and that can put a lot of stress on you as you want to put the perfect meal on the table.
And, to add to the pressure, there’s the need to prepare a picture-perfect turkey – golden brown on the outside and moist on the inside.
But don’t worry! A turkey is really not overly difficult to prepare well – if you do your preparation. Need some tips? Here are a few to help!
- Choose the Right Size: How many people are coming for Thanksgiving dinner? And how much turkey do you want leftover? The rule of thumb for turkey is about one pound of turkey per person. For example, a 14-pound bird should provide you with 14 servings – that would be enough for ten people with four servings of leftovers.
- Using a Frozen Turkey? Allow Plenty of Time to Thaw: Keep food safety in mind when thawing your turkey. It’s safest to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. And for every 5 pounds of turkey, you should allow approximately 24 hours to thaw. A 10-pound turkey will take about 48 hours to thaw – so make sure you allow for adequate time. You don’t want to wake up on Thanksgiving Day to find a turkey that’s still frozen.
- Decide on How You Are Going to Prepare Your Turkey: There are tons of different ways that you can prepare your turkey. Do some research before the big day and choose your method so that you have everything you need.
- Think About Roasting Two Small Turkeys: If you need a lot of turkey because you’ll be having a large group for Thanksgiving, it may be wiser to roast two smaller turkeys. You’ll find that smaller turkeys fit better in your refrigerator and cook more quickly. Additionally, two turkeys would allow you to prepare it in two different ways – should you choose.
- Will You Stuff Your Turkey or Not?: To stuff or not to stuff – that is the question! And it has fierce supporters on both sides. If you choose to stuff your bird, please keep in mind that it will take longer to cook, and you run the risk of it cooking unevenly. But it can be done! Just plan accordingly.
- Make Sure It Fits in Your Pan: Do you have a turkey roasting pan? Or, do you buy a disposable roasting pan to use for Thanksgiving? No matter which way you go – make sure your turkey will fit. You want the pan to have sides high enough to catch all of the drippings and plenty of room to baste your turkey while cooking.
- Watch Your Oven Temperature: It can be tempting to crank up the heat to cook your turkey, but it’s recommended to go low and slow. Think about going at approximately 325 degrees from beginning to end.
- Tips for Roasting Your Turkey: Here are a few quick tips to make your turkey taste its best:
- Rub Your Turkey with Butter – This will help it brown and impart some flavor
- Start Your Turkey Breast Side Down – This will help to keep the breast tender and moist
- Don’t Let It Brown Too Quickly – The skin can definitely get brown before the turkey is done – so be sure to keep an eye on it and cover with foil as need
- Make Sure It’s Cooked Through: Turkey should register a temperature of 170 degrees when completely cooked. To check for doneness, stick your thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Let It Rest Before Carving: Just like with a good steak, let your turkey rest before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute – so that it’s moist for your guests. 20-30 minutes is usually sufficient resting time.
This Thanksgiving, avoid any turkey disasters with a little bit of preparation. Use these tips to prepare a perfect bird – and if you run into a turkey problem that you’re not sure how to handle, call the Turkey Talk Line for some assistance. They’ll be sure to offer you some good advice!