Tips For a Great Turkey Dinner This Year

Thanksgiving is coming and that means cooks around the country will be doing their best to outdo last year’s Thanksgiving turkey

Here are some tips to help you get organized and turn out a fabulous feast come the day of Thanksgiving.

Get Organized and Start Planning.

You will probably need about one pound of turkey per Thanksgiving guest. Smaller turkeys cook well and dry out less so once you’re beyond about 14 or 14 people consider picking up two small turkeys such as to 10 or 11 pounders instead. Everyone loves Thanksgiving leftovers so don’t worry about the extras.

If you need a fresh turkey (I always do) connect with your store in advance (like now) and pick it up a couple of days in advance. Put it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator in a tray to collect any juices.

If your turkey comes frozen also buy a couple of days in advance and allow to thaw in the refrigerator (again bottom shelf) never thaw meat on the counter.

Set Up

A note on brining

I love to brine my turkeys. Before brining I honestly did not like Thanksgiving Turkey that much and just ate teeny pieces. Now we have discovered brining these last 5 years and wouldn’t go back.

Brining is to soak the meat in a sugar and salt solution for a period of hours. The meat absorbs the solution and cooks up faster and more flavorful than otherwise.

If you’re planning on brining your turkey this year you will need a fresh turkey. Kosher or frozen turkeys have already been treated with a salt solution and you will end up with something not so good if you attempt to brine one of these.

So make sure you get a turkey that has not been treated with a salt solution. You will have to set that up the night before (12 to 14 hours in advance). Remove the turkey giblets and neck from the turkey and rinse it well.

A roasting pan with a V shaped rack works well if you tend to rotate your turkey during the baking.

Some will insist on starting the turkey on the breast so that the juices flow downward first and it turns out less dry.

Bake your stuffing in a separate pan outside of the turkey. The turkey cavity is that last to cook and the stuffing is in danger of not cooking through with raw turkey juices in it.
Using one of those meat roasting bags is a great idea if you are concerned about your turkey drying out. I have used them with great success. Follow the directions and never give up your secret.

Make sure you have fresh spices on hand. Sage, and thyme are two I cannot do without.

Baking

Use a meat thermometer so you never wonder if your turkey is done.

If you notice your skin getting too dark then use foil to keep it from over browning. My family has requested the darker skin so foil is never used here.

If you rotate your turkey during baking use paper towels to grab the legs and turn and toss after using.

Let your turkey rest for 30 minutes after baking before carving to serve.

— O Quinn

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