TURKEY TIPS: FROM DRY TO DELISH!
With Thanksgiving only days away, you’ve likely got all the basics done; guests have sent in their RSVPs, the menu is all planned out and you’re preparing to get into the fun bit: the cooking!
And while veggie sides ( and desserts, if you’re making them) may feel foul-proof, tried and true, for many, there remains one minor detail that can feel challenging… or even problematic: how to roast the turkey and not end up with a dry, tasteless pièce de résistance.
Not to worry!
Below are my top five tips to help ensure you’ll be serving a bird that’s not only delectable on the day of, it can open up lots of leftover possibilities to boot as you’ll actually want to continue to enjoy it, rather than feeling you’re forcing down leftovers,
- DEFROST IT PROPERLY Place your turkey breast side up unwrapped in the refrigerator thaw. Thaw the turkey on cookie sheet or pan to catch any dripping juices from the turkey. Calculate 24 hours in the fridge for every 4 pounds of turkey. (1) Not properly defrosting will almost guarantee an unevenly cooked bird.
- BRINE IT Brining is the key to making a great turkey; It adds moisture through osmosis; if you brine it for 24 hours, the flavor will actually penetrate the skin and spread throughout the entire turkey. (2)
- BREAK IT DOWN When roasting the whole bird, the key is to cook the legs longer than the breast; Once the breast is cooked, remove the bird from the oven, remove the legs and then put them back in. This stops the breasts drying out. (3)
- SEASON THE MEAT – NOT THE TOP OF THE SKIN By rubbing any butter, herbs, citrus or spices underneath the skin instead of on top, the flavor will much more easily be absorbed into the meat.
- LET IT REST – Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Cover loosely with foil for at least an hour prior to carving. By letting it rest, the moisture is re-absorbed and your meat will be tender and juicy. There’s also a second reason why you want to let it rest. A large piece of meat will actually continue to cook for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. (4)
And when to begin the roast?
The rule of thumb in our home is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that’s about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-lb.) (5)
I so enjoy the production that I put forth into this holiday, so we’ll typically get an 18-20 bird, regardless of whether our guest list is on the smaller side or not.
All my veggies are prepped the day before and only need to be reheated while the bird rests, so I simply work backward from the time we will be sitting down to eat, including that extra hour to rest, and it works every time.
And none of us can get enough, going back for seconds… and perhaps even thirds.