Tips For Terrific Turkey

In just a few short weeks, families across the U.S. will celebrate Thanksgiving. Though some dishes may vary – like candied yams or cranberry sauce – turkey is almost unanimously the centerpiece of most tables. Though the size of the bird may vary, turkey can be an especially challenging meal for almost any chef, a feat that requires hours of preparation and cooking time. Yet the final product can often make or break your Thanksgiving festivities. So, before the big day, why not prepare yourself by planning ahead with your turkey cooking? Here are a few such tips and tricks worth gobbling up:

Let your turkey thaw
Perhaps the biggest part of cooking the actual bird is ensuring it has thawed out properly. A still-frozen bird can take substantially longer to cook, and even then the overall taste might be affected. According to The Kitchn, the best rule for thawing is to allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds. So, a 10 pound bird would need 48 hours to thaw. For a faster method, you can also soak the turkey in a bath of cold water. If you change the water every 30 minutes, a 12 to 16 pound bird should thaw in six to eight hours.

Keep it hot
As mentioned, cooking a turkey is no easy feat. The hardest part is usually controlling the overall temperature. According to Bon Appetit, make sure you start the process off by cooking the bird at the proper temperature. For a nice, crispy brown exterior begin at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 20 minutes, and then drop the oven’s dial to 350 degrees for the remainder of the cooking time. Just try to avoid opening the oven whenever possible, as this can throw off the bird’s core temperature and extend its time in the oven.

Stuffing: Yay or nay?
One long-held Thanksgiving tradition is to place the stuffing inside the bird. However, as Fine Cooking pointed out, that’s not always the best approach. For one, placing the stuffing inside the bird only extends an already lengthy duration in the kitchen. Plus, by baking the stuffing separately, you can ensure it bakes more evenly while also creating a nice crispy top layer. However, if you do decide to cook the stuffing inside the bird, you have to check the temperature separately from the turkey. You can remove the stuffing once it hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flip the bird
For most recipes, people will place a turkey right side up in the oven, which means that the juices from the bird will collect at the bottom. While some people later add said juices to flavor their gravy mix, there is another way to prepare the turkey. After the bird’s been in the oven for at least an hour, you should then place it upside down. This will allow those same juices to leak into the bird’s breasts, which results in far more tender meat overall. Part of that flipping process is ensuring you have the right pan. That means something that’s got enough room for the turkey, is made of heavy-gauge metal and features a non-stick surface.

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