It’s almost turkey time! Here’s what you need to know to make an amazing turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner.
How big? The rule of thumb is one pound of turkey per person. For leftovers plan on 1 ½ pounds per person. Turkeys weighing 12 to 15 pounds are ideal. If you’re feeding a crowd or love those leftovers, consider two turkeys rather than one giant bird. Smaller birds cook faster and better. It’s hard to get a huge turkey to cook evenly without cooking it to death. Plus, more legs!
How to defrost. Allow five hours per pound to defrost your turkey in the fridge. A 15-pound turkey takes three days, a 25-pounder takes five days.
To brine or not to brine. Brine is a simple salt and sugar solution in which you soak the turkey for a juicy and flavorful bird. You can add whatever herbs and spices you want for even more flavor.
Most turkeys you’ll find at the supermarket have been injected with a salty solution that’s intended to enhance the flavor and add moisture to prevent the turkey from drying out during cooking. On the label, it will read something like “contains up to 9.5% of a solution…” If you have one of these: don’t brine it! If you brine one of these it will turn out mushy and over-salted.
If you want to brine your turkey, purchase a turkey from a butcher or one that’s labeled “natural”. This means it’s had minimal processing with no artificial ingredients, solutions, or colors added.
Diva’s Turkey Brine on a Dime
What You’ll Need:
1 gallon water
¾ cup Kosher salt OR ½ cup table salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns OR 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup soy sauce
3 smashed cloves of garlic
8 cups ice
Here’s How: Combine ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and cool completely. In a large container, add the brine and ice and immerse the turkey.
Place the brine and turkey in the refrigerator. Allow at least one hour per pound of turkey in the brine. When you’re ready to roast, remove the turkey and rinse it thoroughly. Discard the brine. Dry the turkey with paper towels and roast as usual.
How to roast? For the easiest roast turkey, I recommend a basting bag. If you continuously open the oven to baste your turkey, it can literally add hours to your cooking time. Pop your turkey in the oven at 325°F and set the timer for 20 minutes per pound and walk away.
Is it done? The turkey is done is when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads between 175-180°F. Ignore that goofy little plastic pop-up thermometer. It’s not accurate. Let the turkey rest loosely tented with foil for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute and makes for easier carving and a juicier bird.
I hope this answers your questions so you can roast turkey with confidence. You got this, Diva!
Fabulous Food by Patti Diamond from “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” – www.divasonadime.com Join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.