Bird, bird, bird, is the word on Thanksgiving and getting it wrong can leave guests disappointed. This is the guide to perfect holiday turkey. This is a guide that covers choosing the turkey, preparing the turkey, and how to attain that perfect crisp skin, moist meat and wonderful flavor we’ve all been seeking.
Step #1 – Finding The Right Turkey
One rule that professional chefs seem to agree on is that you should choose a natural turkey. The best turkey is organic, and hasn’t been pumped with saline. It can be hard to tell if the turkeys at your local grocer have been, but the label should say somewhere if the turkey has been plumped with saline. If you can’t find one that is natural you can contact your local butcher to make sure the star of your Holiday meal is up to the job. It might cost a little more but you want it to be the centerpiece of your meal.
Step #2 – Ensure A Moist Turkey
The best way to ensure a moist, seasoned and delicious turkey is brining. This involved submerging the turkey in seasoned, salty water for at least a day or two. Mix up the brining solution by combining a gallon of water with a cup of kosher salt and a half a cup of sugar. Some people like the flavor of a little garlic, thyme, or sage in their turkey. Adding those additional flavors, or even a bay leaf can add the complexity to your turkey to set it apart from the rest. Some people even add a little peppercorn or apple cider vinegar to the water to take it that extra step.
The brining step in the perfect turkey method is meant to let the salt and water change the structure of the meat. This means letting more of the water and flavor into the cells and produces a more moist and flavorful turkey.
Step #3 – Air Dry Your Brined Turkey
Clearly after a nice 2 day soak in brine you can’t very well just shove your turkey in the over for roasting. Don’t cut your time short, plan ahead and make sure you dry your brined turkey on the rack in your refrigerator overnight. Just trying to dry your turkey with some towels or paper towel might take the water off the surface of the skin, but won’t let the full air drying of the skin happen. Drying your turkey right will produce that wonderfully crisp skin and that gorgeous color we all want on our holiday tables.
For the inside of the turkey you will want to use strong, durable paper towels to get excess water out of the turkey. Water inside the bird or on the skin during the cooking process creates steam which prevents your turkey from getting that crisp skin. A nice brushing with butter can lock in the moisture and help give you the perfect holiday turkey.
Step #4 – Tie In The Moisture
Before roasting your turkey you will want to sew closed the cavity in the bottom of the bird. This will trap all the flavors and aromatic elements in the cavity and force them the cook and emanate through the meat, instead of just out the end of the turkey. Even taking the time to use some butchers twine for the wings and legs to tie them up against the rest of the turkey can even out the cooking and make handling the bird after cooking easier. If you need some guidance of how to truss your turkey, YouTube has loads of videos that offer step by step guidance.
Step #5 – The Right Holiday Turkey Heat
While starting your oven at 400°F you’ll want to keep an eye on the actual meat temperature. When gauging the temperature for your Perfect Holiday Turkey the USDA recommends 165°F. Your meat thermometer can help you gauge how the turkey is coming. Ultimately you can tell it’s done when you can poke the turkey between the breast and thigh and the juices come out clear. The fact is that you can always cook it more if you are unsure if it’s done, but you can’t cook it less. So keep an eye on your turkey to make sure you don’t overdo it and watch for that clear juice and overall meat temperature.
Step #6 – Flipping The Turkey – Rotating
Most professional chefs agree that when you first set your turkey in to be roasted that you want to start with it breast down. With both dark and white meat the flipping of the turkey helps the different types of meat cook evenly. The white meat actually cooks faster because it’s leaner. So cooking the dark meat a little longer helps keep the white meat moist.
First off make sure that you have your oven set for 400°F, and that your turkey is well buttered. In a V pan with a cup of water, carrots, celery and onions place the bird breast down. After about 45 minutes take the turkey out of the over and give it a quarter rotation, this will leave it on its side. Before setting the turkey back in the over use your brush to use some of the drippings to baste the turkey again and then repeat this turning every 15 minutes.
Giving The Gift of Turkey
If you have a large customer base, staff of employees, or want to thank your corporate business partners with the gift of a turkey for Thanksgiving PromoGroup Rewards offers bulk turkey gift certificates which can be redeemed at virtually Participating Stores in the United States. You set the dollar amount, and can include your company logo and a short message. We don’t charge handling fees and your turkey gift recipients will be able to choose the brand, size, and flavor of turkey they like best.