The Thanksgiving Turkey, it’s the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving, well, that and the wine stain on your white shirt, the one you swore you’d never wear because it was white. Oh look, Uncle Tom bought a new camera and is insisting on an impromptu family, photoshoot. Wonderful.
Anyway, at least you nailed the Thanksgiving turkey!
THAWING A BIRD
- In the fridge, allow for 24-hours per every 5lbs (2kg) of meat.
- RUSH thaw in sink with cool water, but change your water every 30-minutes to avoid bacteria party.
PICKING YOUR BIRD
- Allow for 1-1.5-lbs per person.
- Five people coming? That’s a 7.5-lb turkey.
Top Tip: Make sure you buy your turkey pan AFTER you find out what size of turkey you’ll be cooking.
COOKING YOUR BIRD
- At 350*F(176*C), it’ll take you 13-15-minutes per pound of turkey.
- Cooking a 15-lb turkey? That’ll take you 13×15=3-hours and 15-minutes
- If you stuff the bird, the cooking will take longer.
Top Tip: Cover your wing tips and leg ends with foil so they won’t burn.
I WANT CRISPY SKIN! (AND WHO DOESN’T?)
- Pat your turkey dry before you cook it. I use paper towels, but if you want to use kitchen towels, knock yourself out.
- For SUPER crispy skin: leave the turkey in the fridge overnight.
- Let bird rest for 15-25-minutes before you carve it.
- Resting your turkey lets the juices reabsorb into the meat.
- Don’t make your gravy until your turkey has rested in your turkey pan that way you get those juices too!
The difference between bird-shaped cardboard and delicious, moist meat is in the brine. Without getting into the science of tangled proteins, just know that your brined bird will be about a half-pound heavier when it comes out of the oven, when compared to a dry, unbrined bird. So, essentially you’re meat firming and moisture inducing. Make sense?
Don’t believe me? Let your taste buds do the convincing.
If you want an even richer herb flavor than I’ve presented in my brine, dump in a few sprigs of rosemary or double down on your sage and thyme. Personally, I love the balance of the orange, apple, AND THEN the background flavor of the herbs, but, it’s your bird. Go crazy! Enjoy!
Now, go crush your Thanksgiving, and don’t wear a white shirt (they never forget).
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS TURKEY
Can I brine it faster?
Yes. You can forgo the water and flavors and simply smear kosher salt all over every inch of your turkey [yes, even on the inside]. Provided your Thanksgiving Turkey is thawed, you can get away with leaving it this way for an hour. Rise off and cook. I’d hesitate to dry-brine for anything over 2-hours as your meat might take a trip to Saltville.
Do I have to let it rest?
Yes. Put down the carving knife. Step away. Go wash some dishes. Resting lets the proteins relax and reabsorb some of that precious moisture you’ve put in there when you brined your bird. Be patient.