It’s almost Thanksgiving and that means it’s almost turkey dinner time. Whether this is your first time making a turkey or you’ve done it lots of times, these tips will ensure you have the perfect dinner centerpiece; a golden, delicious, crispy-skinned and juicy inside Thanksgiving.
Fully Defrost it
This is the most important tip of them all, fully defrost your turkey! You want to make enough room in your fridge so you can keep a turkey in there for at least 2 days to be sure it’s fully defrosted. You don’t want to take your turkey out that morning, go to rinse it and then see and feel ice wedges in there. If you do anything, do this people!
Roast it, Don’t Fry it
I know, I know, deep-fried turkey is so amazing. But so is oven-roasted turkey. And I would rather have an oven-roasted, herbed-butter turkey any day. Not only do I think roasted turkey has an amazing texture but it is so well seasoned and it literally tastes like thanksgiving.
Keep it Stuffing Free
Oven stuffing is the perfect crunchy and soft combination. It will not come out the same if you put it into the turkey. Stuff your turkey with vegetables and leave the stuffing separate.
Use the Turkey Drippings
Don’t throw them away! When you remove the turkey to cut and serve it, don’t throw away the drippings, skins, and all that delicious turkey flavor. Make sure to strain out any bones, skin, and carcass pieces but then use those drippings as the start of your gravy. Add butter, flour or cornstarch, chicken stock (or turkey if you have it,) and whisk over heat. Add black pepper and salt and season it appropriately.
Prep Your Turkey
People say not to wash the turkey (or chicken or the meat, ) but I say wash it! Just be as careful as you can not to splash and clean up really well afterwards. Fully rinse the inside and outside of the turkey for several minutes. Allow the excess water to drip out pat down with paper towels to completely dry it off. Now it’s ready to be seasoned!
Melt a stick of butter and add sage, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder and stir to combine. Spoon the butter mixture all over the outside of the bird and put into the oven.
For a Golden, Crispy Skin
If you want a perfect and crispy turkey skin, the secret is to put it in the oven at high heat for about 15 minutes. Then, turn the heat down, and cover it. This is how my mom taught me to do it and it’s worked perfectly every time I’ve done it this way!
How to Cook it
My mom taught me everything I know about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey. For the crispy skin, cook bird for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Then, continue cooking the turkey for 15 minutes per pound.
Check the Turkey
Just because this method is tried and true, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check the turkey! Make sure to check it with a meat thermometer and not cook it past 165 degrees. Also, let it rest, i.e. take it out of the oven, leave it covered, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before you cut into it. This will help redistribute all the delicious turkey juices and your meat will be more tender than ever.