Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gobble Gobble: A Turkey Cooking Guide

We love everything about Thanksgiving dinner... it's one of our favorite holidays!  But before you get ready to sit down with your loved ones to share a delicious meal, one thing must happen first:  someone's gotta cook that turkey.  That delicious bird isn't going to roast itself, and there are a few key steps to ensure that it's cooked to perfection.  Nobody likes a dry turkey, and nobody likes salmonella.  However, ranging from 14-20 lbs a bird, cooking a Thanksgiving masterpiece can be nothing short of intimidating.

Here's a few pointers that we found to be very helpful, to get that turkey in tip-top shape!  Not cooking the turkey yourself?  Share our turkey cooking knowledge with the one cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, and offer to lend a helping hand.  Now, let's talk turkey!

1. Thaw accordingly.
Depending on if your turkey is fresh or frozen, be sure to thaw it out accordingly.  Make sure that your turkey is at room temperature before popping it in the oven.

2. Add some kick.
Olive oil, butter with fresh herbs, aromatic vegetables... all of these help to add flavor.  Coat the outside of the turkey with one of these fats as well.  There are plenty of excellent turkey recipes available!

3. Foil is your friend.
Cover the breast of the turkey tightly with aluminum foil; just remember to remove it about 45 minutes before the turkey has finished cooking.  At this time when you take the foil off of the breast, you can also lay a piece of foil over any areas that you think might be getting too dark.  You don't want that baby to burn!  Do this while opening/closing the oven door quickly; no need to change the oven temperature.

4. Rack it up.
Cooking your turkey on a rack helps to make things cook evenly on all sides, to get that juicy tenderness throughout.  Bonus: you can use it anytime you cook poultry!

5. Don't stuff the stuffing.
Not stuffing your turkey means that it will take less time to cook- a plus!  It also becomes more risky for food safety, in case the stuffing inside the turkey is not cooked to proper temperatures.  Our advice: cook stuffing as a separate side dish.

6. Take the temperature.
We like to reference temperature guides when cooking, and always use a meat thermometer.  Each time you open and close the oven door, heat is lost, and your turkey will suffer by drying out as well.  Because of this (and because of the need to check the temp) we suggest a meat thermometer with an alarm built in.  Super handy!  Stick the thermometer into either the thick part of the thigh or thickest part of the breast, and you will be golden. 

7. Have a turkey nap.
Once removing from the oven, allow the turkey to rest for about 20-25 minutes before beginning to carve.  This allows the juices to absorb into the meat, and locks it all in.  Hey, if it helps to avoid a dry turkey, we're all for it!

8. Dinner is {almost} served.
Use a very sharp knife when you're ready to carve, or an electric knife if you have one.  Need to brush up on your carving skills?  We found a video to help with that! 

Gobble, Gobble... Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

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