Just sharing a couple quick tips for those of you cooking the turkey on Thursday – lessons learned after many years of trial and error. Happy Holiday!!
- The first step is to brine your bird. Turkey is a relatively light flavored meat, so you will want to add flavor before serving. Here are some of my favorite brines:
- It is fun to play around with brine recipes, adding some local flavor or just adjusting spices to better fit your eaters. I prefer brines, which do not contain oil, to marinades, as the fats block the liquid water-holding capacity in the meat, thus inhibiting the addition of flavor.
- Allow your turkey to brine on Wednesday, then rinse off and store in your refrigerator uncovered overnight. It is best to place it on a rack with a pan underneath. Any access moisture is removed from the skin of the bird and the result is very crispy skin – a big favorite in my house.
- Remove the turkey and allow it to approach room temperature before cooking – do not allow meat, particularly poultry, to sit unrefrigerated for too long however – 90 minutes at most.
- Do not cook your stuffing inside the turkey – instead, add some fresh herbs, garlic and cut lemon to the cavity. This adds some flavor to the meat and it will also create wonderful aromas.
- During cooking, rotate the turkey. With a 12-15 pound bird, start with the bottom side up (45 minutes), rotate so one drumstick is up (15 minutes), then the other drumstick (15 minutes), then finally breast side up (30-50 minutes). The turkey will be evenly browned and look absolutely beautiful at your table.
- Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thickest part of the thigh reaches175 on an instant-read thermometer.
- Allow your turkey to rest for 30-90 minutes before carving. This allows juices to redistribute to the external portions of the meat.