Cooking a turkey for the holidays can be tricky. There are some basics you should familiarize yourself with. Find out what you are doing wrong and how to correct these things!
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your turkey. If you plan on buying a frozen turkey, purchase it 1-2 weeks before the holiday and freeze it until the week of the meal. Remember that a frozen turkey can take up to four days to thaw in the refrigerator. If you plan on buying a fresh bird, call your grocer and reserve one 2-3 weeks ahead of the holiday.
Before cooking your turkey, rinse the bird and be sure to pat it dry. Use paper towels to pat the interior and exterior. If it is not dry enough the exterior skin won’t be crispy and the interior will be soggy.
Many frozen turkeys come already pre-brined. Do not brine again if it has already been done. If you plan to brine, make sure to check the label for an “all natural” turkey.
Make sure your roasting pan has a roasting rack. If you do not have a rack, line the bottom of the pan with large carrots. If the bird is cooked directly on the pan, the bottom will burn.
Stop basting! Every time you open the oven, it loses heat and causes the turkey to dry out. Basically the opposite of what is supposed to happen will take place. This will increase the cooking time dramatically. Since the juices on the bottom are not all fat, the liquid in the solution will cause the skin of the turkey to become soggy. The objective to cooking a turkey is to have a perfectly crisped skin and juicy meat.
Let your turkey sit for at least 15 minutes before you carve it. If you carve it too early, the juice will not be absorbed into the meat and the turkey will be dry.
Make sure your Thanksgiving is a wonderful day by using these tips. Don’t forget to enjoy the meal with your loved ones! Happy cooking!