Last year I stood in front of the meat counter contemplating buying an organic turkey for Thanksgiving. I must have stood there 15 minutes looking at the price per pound sticker wondering was it really worth the money? I mean, come on, during November the price of a 20 pound non-organic turkey is CHEAP. Of course you’re also paying for all of the added sodium, antibiotics, and hormones-not to mention the horrible conditions in which they are raised in. So I bit the bullet, and bought an organic free-range turkey.
Let me tell you-it was the moistest, most flavorful turkey I have ever cooked or eaten. No matter what type of turkey you decide to cook for Thanksgiving dinner this year, there are a couple of simple tips for Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey .
5 Tips for Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
#1: The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.
You might want to test your oven before the big day by simply preheating it to 250° and testing it with a cooking thermometer. Start your turkey out uncovered in a 425*F oven for 30 minutes. Cover the breast with aluminum foil and drop the temperature down to 325*F for the remainder of the cooking time. This is guarantees a turkey that is crisp outside and juicy inside.
#2: Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed.
The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and food borne illness. So place your frozen bird in the refrigerator at least 2 days before the big day.
#3: Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey!
Don't laugh! People have done this, so check both the top AND the bottom of your turkey for a 'bag of goodies'. There is nothing quite as anti-climactic is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and having the bag of giblets pop out.
#4: Know the actual weight of the turkey.
Knowing this number guarantees that you cook your turkey the right amount of time and end up with a turkey that’s golden brown, juicy, and delicious. It also helps plan the timing of your side dishes as well. A good rule of thumb to figure out when to start cooking your Thanksgiving turkey is to back track from the time you want to have it on the table.
#5: Add your dressing last.
Stuff your turkey with dressing once the turkey is totally done and has an internal cooking temperature of 165*F. NEVER stuff a raw turkey-the dressing will absorb the turkey’s uncooked blood and juices and can lead to food borne illness.