Avoid Frozen Bird, if possible
Freezing creates ice crystals that expand and puncture the meat’s cells. Fresh turkey meat stays juicier when cooked.
If frozen, thaw it safely. A refrigerator set no higher than 40F is the safest place. This can take up to six hours per pound, so a 16-pound turkey can take up to four days to thaw.
Never brine a kosher turkey. The koshering process has already brined it. Its no wonder the kosher birds always win the juiciest, tastiest turkey contests.
Start to roast it upside down. Typically breast meat finishes cooking before leg meat. To solve this dilemma, start cooking the turkey upside on 450F for 30 – 45 minutes, to transfer maximum heat directly to the legs and thighs while protecting the breast. After 45 minutes lower the heat to 300F, and cook 20 minutes per pound. For the last hour, raise the temperature to 375 and cook for one hour to brown the skin (if you don’t want to start with this method, cook it right side up 17 minutes per pound in a 325F oven.).
Don’t cover the turkey. Covering the turkey will create moisture and ultimately steam or poach the meat, yuck. It actually will dry the bird out and not create a moist, crispy texture. If your turkey is browning too much, turn the temperature down and continue to cook until it reaches 165F.
Roast it on a rack. This encourages air circulation around the turkey and speeds up cooking. A rack also keeps the bottom skin crisper by raising it above the juice in the pan.
Baste it a bit. Basting just crisps up the skin; it does not make the meat juicier or help prevent drying out (that just happens from overcooking). For a darker skin, add a little brown sugar or agave to the basting juices. The combination of protein and sugar on the skin creates a dark, crispy texture.
Rest for juiciness and easier carving. Just like with BBQ, the turkey needs to rest for the juices to redistribute and not run off in the cutting process.
Degrease the pan drippings by cooling it off and skimming the fat.
Thicken gravy with starch. Use cornstarch, tapioca, or potato starch, mixed into warm gravy without too much thickener. Use just 1 teaspoon (instead of 1 tablespoon flour).
New Thanksgiving Recipes
Maple Roasted Carrot Salad
Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Salted Caramel Whipped Mousse
Cranberry Apple Sauce
Cranberry Sauce with Dried Apricots
Fall Greens with Apples, Pears and Toasted Nuts
Pumpkin Ice Cream and Graham Cracker Torte
Full Thanksgiving Index