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Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Now that the holidays are coming up, we felt compelled to share how we make the perfect Thanksgiving Day Turkey.

To brine or not to brine? I've done it both ways, and honestly I think the turkey is so much more flavorful when you use a well-seasoned brine. I cannot make any claims to fame on this, but I took tips from Alton Brown and Anne Burrell from their recipes on Food Network along with their cooking tips to put together an amazing turkey. You can think of brining as insurance in case you accidentally leave the turkey in the oven too long - the turkey is less likely to dry out when you brine it, even if the internal temperature gets too high.

To stuff or not to stuff? I love stuffing. I think the combination of bread, apples, herbs topped with homemade gravy is divine. Stuffing the turkey is optional - just keep in mind that it will take a bit longer to roast a stuffed turkey. As far as making a dressing (i.e. stuffing cooked outside the turkey in a separate pan), I say that you a missing a great opportunity to add flavor if not stuffed inside the turkey. And for those that say putting stuffing inside the turkey has safety risks, that's because they don't know how to use a thermometer.

Homemade gravy is a must. This isn't even an option so I'm not going to pose it as a question. The secret to a great homemade gravy is building flavor. This happens layer upon layer, starting with a mirepoix and white wine, chicken broth, the drippings from the turkey, the neck (yes, absolutely, save the neck), and finally all of the flavor that sticks to the side of the pan that most people just throw away. We'll show you how to make wonderful homemade turkey gravy.

As far as cooking tools, invest in a good roasting pan with a rack and a digital thermometer. You want the turkey to sit elevated in a pan that allows air to circulate all around the turkey. This helps it cook more evenly, and having a good digital thermometer will ensure you cook your turkey to the perfect temperature. Plus you can use a digital thermometer all year round. Although you could cook a turkey in a bag or a disposable tin, I promise you that a good roasting pan makes a world of difference.

Don't truss the turkey (i.e. tie the legs together). When you do this, it causes the turkey to cook unevenly, causing the thighs and drumsticks to take longer to cook. Mostly this is done for presentation reasons, so if you want to present your turkey on Thanksgiving day, truss the legs together with a small piece of cooking twine after you roast it, but not before.

Check the temperature every 30 minutes. Dried out turkey sucks. Take the turkey out when the largest part of the thigh and breast register around 155-160 degrees on a digital thermometer. Once the turkey reaches this internal temperature, take it out and let it rest in the roasting pan on the counter for at least 30 minutes. This will allow all of the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the turkey. Keep in mind that the turkey will continue to cook for at least 30 minutes sitting outside the oven, and may rise anywhere from 5-10 degrees depending on the size of the turkey and how long it has been in the oven, so even if you take it out of the oven and the breast is at 160 and the thighs are at 155, if you let it rest the turkey will come up to proper temperature by the time you eat it. The larger the turkey, the longer it will need to stay in the oven, and the longer it will cook while it rests. Don't worry - they turkey will be plenty hot even if it sits out of the oven for an hour. Carve the turkey after it has a chance to rest, and wait until you are just ready to eat it as it will retain its heat if you leave it in one piece.

Video Tutorial (Season 1, Episode 9)

This episode is a bit longer than usual, but actually consists of 3 different recipes: (1) a brine for the turkey, (2) roasting and carving the turkey itself, and (3) turkey gravy.

We hope you enjoy this video. And even if you decide not to make the turkey exactly this way, hopefully you'll learn some tips and tricks along the way to make your Thanksgiving Day Turkey even more amazing.


Tips, Tricks, and Essentials

For tips and tricks cooking with children, read our post here:

Looking for kitchen equipment? Like what you see in our videos? Check out our recommendations for your kitchen:

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