Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and there can be many uncertainties when preparing your holiday feast. Below are some quick tips and tricks we've learned to creating the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
- How do to defrost the turkey: The best way to thaw your turkey is to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, calculating one day of defrosting for every 4 pounds of turkey. If you have a 12-pound turkey, it should be placed in the refrigerator on Monday so that it’s defrosted and ready to cook on Thanksgiving Day.
- What turkey parts should you include in your meal? - The turkey's cavities often contain the neck, heart, gizzard (part of the bird's stomach), and liver. The heart, neck, and gizzard can greatly enhance your gravy. Do not use the liver - it has a potent, unpleasant flavor that can ruin a good gravy. Just throw it away.
- Do you know the difference between brining and salting a turkey? - Salting poultry in advance is one way to season the meat and keep it juicy. When salt is applied to raw poultry, juices inside are drawn to the surface. The salt dissolves in the exuded liquid, forming a brine that is eventually reabsorbed by the poultry. The salt allows the poultry to hold on to its natural juices. Brining works in much the same way as salting. Salt in the brine seasons the poultry and promotes a change in its protein structure, reducing its overall toughness and creating gaps that fill up with water and keep the meat juicy and flavorful. Brining works faster than salting and can also result in juicier lean cuts since it adds, versus merely retaining moisture. Be careful though, brining inhibits browning.
- What about basting? - Contrary to popular belief, basting does nothing to moisten dry breast meat. The liquid simply runs off the turkey, at the same time turning the skin chewy and leathery. Basting also requires that you incessantly open and close the oven, which means your turkey will take longer to get to your table.
- Is it better to stuff a turkey or serve a dressing? - Cooking the stuffing inside the bird to a safe internal temperature takes too long. By the time the stuffing is safe to eat, the meat is overcooked. Instead, bake your dressing in a dish alongside the turkey, or while the turkey rests. If family tradition calls for a stuffed turkey, make sure to take the turkey out of the oven when the meat is done, scoop out the stuffing, and finish baking it in a dish while the turkey rests. Stuffing should reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees to be considered safe to eat. Avoid food poisoning this holiday season.
- A turkey will cook more evenly if not overstuffed. Consider adding aromatic vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, or garlic or carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin.
- How do I get the perfect brown skin? - For crispier skin, unwrap your turkey the day before roasting and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cover with foil to prevent over-browning.
Using the above tips can help to make your holiday feast a little tastier this season. M Culinary Concepts wishes you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.