I’m not that home chef girl that waits till the day before Thanksgiving to buy a turkey, but I have had to buy a Turkey on Thanksgiving because of a marinating blunder. Since turkey day is almost upon us and it’s never too early to start planning the menu, let’s prep and plan. Of course, turkey is usually the star and preparing and cooking a great turkey can be a little intimidating. With just a few tips, you can take the stress out of preparing for the holiday.
Let’s start with the bird. There needs to be enough for everyone so when selecting your turkey the general rule of thumb is at least one pound per guest. I happen to love leftover turkey so I go with at least two pounds per person. Since most of the turkeys you will find at your local grocery store are around 16 pounds, this should be good for eight guests. Personally, I am planning on getting a 24-pound bird for my table since leftover turkey is one of my favorite ingredients (more recipes to follow).
Once you have your turkey selected and your ready to toss it in the oven, there are a few tips you should follow to make sure you get the perfect bird. If you bought frozen, make sure the turkey is completely defrosted. Place the turkey in the pan breast side up and score the skin along the back with a sharp knife. This will allow drippings to gather in the pan and not be stuck in the skin which makes carving a mess. Make sure the turkey is patted dry and rub-down the skin with vegetable oil. This will help get the nice brown and crispy skin, you can also season the skin at this point if you would like. Place a meat thermometer in the thigh of your bird making sure not to touch the bone and cook until the temperature is 165 degrees. This is truly the only way to ensure turkey is safe to eat. Use a good size square of aluminum foil and fold it into a triangle to tent over the breast of the turkey. Keep the foil in place until your turkey is about 45 minutes away from being done when the thermometer is around 130 degrees is usually when I remove the foil. This will prevent the breast from overcooking and drying out.
While your turkey needs to cook to 165 degrees, it can be removed from the oven at around 155 degrees and will continue to coast to the desired temperature. Pull the turkey from the oven and wrap the pan tightly in aluminum foil. Let your turkey rest, the larger the bird the longer the rest time and the temperature will continue to rise. I let mine sit wrapped in foil for almost 30 minutes before I carve so the juices have time to settle and make sure every piece is moist and juicy.
Keep checking in over the next few weeks for more detailed tips and tricks, along with some great recipes, that will make your Thanksgiving a meal to remember!