How to Make an Easy, Great Tasting Thanksgiving Turkey
A breast down turkey? Learn why it may be a better idea
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Each year hundreds of people are left clueless and helpless when faced with the star of all Thanksgiving dinners; yes, you got it, Mr. Turkey. Yet, it does not have to be this way. For all those that suffer from relentless turkey-phobia are some easy, simple, clear tips that will help cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. So relax and fear not, Thanksgiving does not have to turn into an intimidating event, rather, with a little bit of effort and time, you will be able to unveil the cook within you as you transport the mighty bird on your festive table.
One Week Prior Thanksgiving: Choosing the Big Bird Wisely
It all starts by choosing the best bird. You really want to be somewhat picking when it comes to picking your turkey. Stray away from the so popular frozen birds you find in your local supermarket. You will not need to worry about defrosting it several days prior and its taste will be way much superior than its frozen friends. Fresh turkeys are also much more moist and juicy.
Because fresh turkeys may be in demand, try to order it a week prior from your butcher. Then go pick it up a day prior the holiday so you will eat it at its peak of freshness. If you really want to do your family and yourself a favor, and do not worry about spending a bit more, go organic.
Organic turkeys are not raised in barns, they are actually happy, free range turkeys that gobble-gobble most of the day eating natural grasses and flowers. They are also often antibiotic free, meaning that they were not fed antibiotics to make them look plumper (check the packaging, often this should be stated somewhere).
Depending on how many guests you expect you will have to do some math on picking the size of your turkey. One easy equation: calculate one pound of turkey per person this way you cannot go wrong. Eager for leftovers? Than calculate one pound and a half for each guest. Two smaller birds are preferable than one big bird, because smaller birds are generally tastier. Generally a 10-13 pound bird is quite tasty, over that, you may lose a bit in flavor..
One Day Prior to Thanksgiving :Storing the Turkey
Before heading to your butcher, make sure to make plenty of room in your refrigerator. You do not want to end up leaving your fresh turkey on the counter while you are juggling around yogurt cups, lettuce and eggs. Turkeys are quite bulky beings especially if you are going for the extra large birds.
Once purchased, the fresh turkey should be kept in the coldest portion of the refrigerator to grant freshness. A disadvantage however of purchasing a fresh turkey is the fact that it must be cooked within a couple of days. Keeping a fresh turkey in the fridge beyond three days may be really an unsafe practice.
*For those that want to go an extra mile they may brine their turkey. Brining means simply leaving the turkey in a salty solution for the purpose of increasing taste, moisture and palatability. Important: Kosher turkeys or turkeys that have been pre-basted should not be brined as these already contain enough salt. Brining takes time however, some recipes suggest a 12 hour soak .There are several turkey brine recipes on the web.
Thanksgiving Day: Getting Ready
Turkeys may take a long time to cook so you really cannot procrastinate on Thanksgiving day. Remove the package with the internal organs and neck found inside the turkey and then wash the turkey well with water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
Now most people know about the part where some butter is melted and then rubbed all over the skin of the turkey. An alternative way to do this in order to get one of the juiciest and moistest turkeys ever is to simply lift the skin from the turkey breast, and massage the butter directly onto the breast. After all, you want the meat to taste great ad be juicy not the skin!
For those looking for more taste, a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and/or thyme may be placed between the skin and the breast. The whole turkey skin can then be rubbed with salt pepper and some paprika so the skin remains crisp and takes a nice golden color.
It is highly advisable to not stuff the turkey. The stuffing may not cook well as the turkey causing a health hazard. It should be therefore cooked separately. While most turkeys are cooked breast up, cooking the turkey breast down may grant a juicier turkey since all the fluids will flow under
The oven should be pre-heated at 325 degrees. The turkey is then covered with a loose tent of foil so to keep it moist. The tent is then removed in the last hour of cooking and at this time the turkey is put breast up so to allow it to get its typical golden color.
Turkey should cook 20 minutes per pound.The turkey is ready when the food thermometer registers a temperature of 160 degrees in the breast area and 170-175 at the thigh.
Once ready, tent turkey again and wait about 20 minutes before carving. This helps the juices to flow and distribute evenly in the turkey so to grant a juicier bird. Turkey is done at this point, Happy Thanksgiving!
Other Great Thanksgiving Baking and Decorating Ideas
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