As a chef, I have learned some tips and tricks for making a perfect thanksgiving turkey.
Make sure you have plenty of time to defrost the turkey and stick to basting every 30 minutes.
Despite what you see in the movies, butchering a whole turkey at the table is unrealistic.
Whether brined, fried, basted or grilled, turkey is a staple at any festive table. However, the best way to make a turkey is an endless debate.
There are some solid tips I’ve learned as a chef to enhance any type of holiday turkey preparation and make this year’s turkey the best yet.
Consider the size of the bird.
Although many homes prepare a turkey every year, it’s easy to forget how much you’ll need for a generous serving. Of course, you also need to consider how many leftovers you want to enjoy without having so much turkey that goes to waste.
Plan on 1 pound of meat per person for a bone-in turkey. If you’re going just for the brisket portion or anything boneless, plan on ½ pound per person.
Decide on a Cooking Method
Any way of cooking a turkey can be successful if you prepare it well enough. Nevertheless, some methods work better for different types of birds.
Roasting at a lower temperature for longer will always result in a more tender turkey, especially if you’re going for traditional poultry, which typically have leaner, darker meat that retains moisture when cooked low and slow.
Experiment with cooking light and dark meats separately for faster cooking. And don’t forget that kosher turkeys already have some salt in the butchering process, so be careful not to over-brine, which can make it too salty.
Always plan ahead
The larger the bird, the longer it takes to thaw, with larger turkeys taking up to three to four days when frozen. Although you can speed up the thawing period by rinsing the turkey under cold water, I think that’s also wasteful.
If you don’t have space in the refrigerator to store and process your bird, grab an ice chest and let the turkey thaw in there. Be sure to brine or season your turkey at least a day in advance so all those delicious seasonings soak into the meat.
Invest in a good thermometer
A good thermometer allows you to easily monitor your bird from start to finish.
I recommend using an updated digital model with a probe that inserts into the turkey and a thermometer that stays out of the oven so you don’t have to open the appliance repeatedly while the bird cooks.
Check the temperature of your turkey
Although salmonella should be a concern as it is preparing your turkey, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventiona turkey can be left out of the refrigerator for two hours or less without developing excess bacterial growth.
With this in mind, know that you can take the turkey out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps the bird cook more evenly, resulting in juicy meat and crispy skin.
Suffice your bird minimally
When doing a whole roast turkey, a little basting is definitely a great option. Just keep in mind that this process requires you to open the oven door and lose some of the oven heat each time you bask the skin in the pan juices.
A few judicious bastings will help keep the meat juicy, but too many will prevent the skin from cracking. Limit yourself to no more than one spray every 30 minutes for best results.
Let the turkey rest
Plan to have your turkey ready before the meal so it (and you) can take a break.
Letting the turkey rest anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours will make a world of difference. so that the juices are redistributed and make sure you have adequate time to cut and plate your turkey.
Cut and plate your turkey into sections
Though a deluge of movies Showing whole turkeys cut tableside rarely works as well as it does on the big screen.
Once the turkey is cool enough to handle, divide it into sections by breasts, thighs, wings, and other parts. Arrange them in an oven-safe dish, cover the dish, and heat the turkey in the oven on low heat. before serving.
To make things more flavorful, add some of the pan juices you used for basting.
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