Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkey Love: Preparation Tips

For most meals that are served on Thanksgiving Day, the turkey is the undisputed main attraction.  With that in mind, I want to share a few, simple tips that will help you achieve a moist, well-seasoned, and above all--delicious--roasted turkey.

Be Kind and Brine
Brining your turkey is nothing short of "turkey love".  I began brining a couple of years ago and won't ever roast another turkey without this moistening, flavor-enhancing step.  To brine your turkey in preparation for roasting, you'll want to submerge it in the brine solution (typically water, part salt, part sugar and any other flavorings of your choice) and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to handle further.  (Brining bags make this process a cinch and can be at found at your local grocery store or gourmet food stores like Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel.)  Finally, rinse your turkey and pat dry before preparing for the oven.

Be Liberal With Seasoning
There's no shortage of ways to season your big bird. From the classic salt and pepper duo to flavored butters, herbs, citrus and aromatics, the list goes on and on.  So whatever your pleasure, be sure to give your turkey even more love and season it liberally on the skin, inside the cavity and even underneath the skin.  Your taste buds will thank you later.

Smart Basting
This next tip is one I learned from Martha StewartOnce you've seasoned your turkey to your liking, take some cotton cheese cloth (about four layers), soak it in your basting liquid, squeeze and then place over the turkey breast.  Continue basting about every 30 minutes until done.  The cheese cloth will protect the breast meat from overcooking and darkening too quickly and also keep it moist.  Remove it for the last hour of cooking and cover any overly dark areas with foil to prevent burning.  The result will be a beautiful, lacquered turkey that is a feast to the eyes and mouth.

Use the Whole Bird!
Before you're tempted to discard the turkey neck or giblets that are found in the turkey cavity, set them aside and use them to flavor your stock for basting and gravy.

Give It a Rest
Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for twenty minutes or so before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.  This will ensure your turkey remains juicy and all your hard work isn't lost.

Tools of the Trade
If you haven't already, invest in a kitchen timer (or two) and an instant read thermometer.  You don't want to "wing it" and try and guess when your turkey is done.  The rule of thumb generally is about 12 minutes for every pound of turkey, but always check to make sure it's done.  Test for doneness at 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.  Nothing short of "well done" is acceptable when you're dealing with raw poultry.

So there you have it.  I hope you'll use these simple tips to transform your turkey into a bird that's nothing short of your best turkey ever!

Happy Eating!

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