Whether it’s your first time hosting or you’re a seasoned pro, you probably already know that the secret to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner is in a little planning and lot of patience. From preparation to presentation, we’ve put together a few helpful turkey tips that’ll make this year’s celebration the tastiest one yet.
How Big of a Turkey Do I Need?
Figure you’ll need about 1 pound of turkey per person, or 1½ pounds if you want leftovers (and who doesn’t?). If you only need enough turkey for 2-3 people, consider a breast rather than a whole bird.
Should I Get a Fresh or Frozen Turkey?
This choice is about timing. Frozen turkey needs to thaw in the refrigerator 1 day for every 5 pounds. This means a 20-pound turkey will take 4 days to thaw.
If you need to thaw your turkey faster, submerge it, wrapped, in cold water. If it’s not fully submerged, rotate the turkey every 30 minutes or so, and change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Using this method, you’ll need at least 30 minutes per pound to completely thaw a whole turkey.
How to Prepare a Turkey
There’s no need to rinse the turkey, but you will want to remove the giblets before prep. The giblets can be cooked separately, used for gravy or simply discarded.
Some cooks like to season the turkey using a wet brine method. To do this, fill a large bucket or tub with a saltwater solution that’s been infused with aromatic herbs and spices such as rosemary, black peppercorns, bay leaves and sage. Submerge the turkey in the saltwater and let it sit 8-24 hours at a temperature of no more than 40°F to ensure food safety. If you can’t fit it into the fridge, put it in an extra-large cooler and monitor the temperature regularly. Pat dry with paper towels before roasting.
Dry brining is an easier, quicker option. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then top with a mixture of kosher salt, herbs and spices. Sprinkle your turkey seasoning mixture inside the turkey cavity, too. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours before roasting.
How to Roast a Turkey in the Oven
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