It’s your turn to host Thanksgiving in your ParkCentral apartment, and you want it to be perfect. Whether this is your first turkey or your 50th, these tips will ensure that your turkey is perfect this Thanksgiving.
Selecting the Right Turkey – There are a lot of choices when it comes to buying a turkey. Your grocery store has fresh, frozen and thawed turkeys at reasonable prices. These turkeys are good choices, but with the recent concern over antibiotics, hormones and more humane treatment of birds and animals, you may want to consider other options. Organic turkeys with no hormones or antibiotics (or additives) are a good healthy choice. They will cost you a bit more, but many feel it is worth it. Many local farmers produce Heritage turkeys, which are an old-fashioned breed and are often leaner and more flavorful. No cage or free-range turkeys are available means they lived outside of a cage, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they were fed organic or vegetarian diets.
- Size Matters – You will need between 1 and 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person. Add a few pounds for the bones and don’t forget leftovers.
- Brining your Turkey – Brining has risen in popularity over the years and typically entails soaking your turkey in a solution that contains a liquid (water or wine), salt, sugar and spices. You also can dry brine.
- Trussing your Turkey – Trussing or tying your turkey up helps ensure that the turkey cooks evenly, plus makes you look like a pro. Simply tuck the wings of the turkey under the body and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Warning: It makes it hard for the cook to steal a wing ahead of time.
- Cook on a Rack of Vegetables – Before placing your turkey in the pan, peel and cut vegetables to make a bed for your turkey to sit on. Turnip, celery, carrots and parsnips are perfect choices. This will allow the turkey to sit higher in the pan allowing for better circulation, and it also mean that your turkey doesn’t stick to the pan. Lastly the vegetables will add flavor to your gravy.
- Stuffing your Turkey – How we all love stuffing, whether it is corn bread stuffing, traditional bread stuffing, meat stuffing or oyster stuffing. A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook, which means that it could be drier, but nothing beats the flavor of stuffing with the turkey juices, so you decide.
- Rub the Turkey with Butter or Oil – OK, you are ready to get the turkey in the oven, but before you do, dry the turkey skin, rub the turkey with butter or oil and place aromatics and butter under the skin. If you aren’t going to stuff the turkey, add herbs to the cavity.
- Don’t Baste – You remember Mom’s big baster? Well, many say that this actually slows down the process and can result in a dry bird. Instead leave the oven closed and if you must baste, do it only after the turkey is ¾ of the way cooked.
- What Temperature – There are a number of recipes out there with different cooking temperatures, but the reality is that a turkey takes time and an oven set at 325/350 degrees consistently seems to work best. Others (like me) start the turkey at a high temperature and then turn it down. Your turkey should be at 165 degrees F when it is done, so investing in a good thermometer is a good idea. Also remember that it will continue to cook once it is out of the oven.
- Let it Rest – The hard work is done, so take a few minutes and enjoy some wine with your guests. Once the turkey is done, take it out and cover it loosely with tinfoil and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!