Don’t wing it this holiday season! Follow these 5 tips to cooking and handling your turkey properly.
1. Buying: Plan on 1 to 1 1⁄2 pounds turkey per person. Buy a fresh or frozen bird: Choose from self-basting, natural, free-range, kosher or organic. Contacting a local farmer is a good option.
2. Thawing: Germs can quickly proliferate on turkey, and other meats left at room temperature. Set your unwrapped frozen turkey on a baking pan and allow to thaw in the fridge. Count about 24 hours per 5 pounds. If you’re in a hurry, and need to thaw the same day, submerge the wrapped bird in cold water for 30 minutes per pound. Change the water every 30 minutes. Don’t soak the turkey in warm water: it would cause the proliferation of bacterias and possible food poisoning.
3. Brining: If brining is your thing, use 3⁄4 cup coarse salt for every gallon of water needed to soak the bird completely. Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for at least 8 hours. Flavor the brine with 1 to 2 cups juice, beer or spirits, it’s up to you! You can also add herbs and spices. However, don’t brine kosher or self-basting turkeys.
4. Prepping: If you brined your turkey, rinse it thoroughly inside and out with cold water. Remove the giblets and neck. Set the bird breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan and pat the skin dry with paper towels. Tie the legs together with twine, tuck in the wings and let the turkey stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before roasting. Pro tip: For an extra-crisp skin, refrigerate the turkey, uncovered, overnight.
5. Roasting: The rule is to count on 20 minutes per pound. Create a mini tent with foil if the skin gets too brown too quickly. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer: The thigh meat and stuffing (if used) should register 165 ̊F (75°C). Optional: You can brush the skin with white vermouth about 15 minutes before you’re ready to take the bird out of the oven. It will give the turkey a rich brown color, thanks to the sugars contained in the fortified wine. Let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
(Image Dru Bloomfield)