By John Gifaldi and Patty Heiden
Here's your turkey grocery list:
Turkey (determine size based on Tip 1 below)
Stuffing (see package for amount needed based on turkey weight)
Spices: Sage, Thyme, Poultry Seasoning, Basil, Salt, Pepper
Thermometer (if you don't already have one)
Tip 1: When purchasing your whole turkey, figure 1-1-½ pounds per person, which allows ½ pound for leftovers.
Tip 2: Frozen turkeys should be defrosted in the refrigerator for 2-5 days prior to cooking depending on the size. Figure approximately 1 day for every 4 pounds. Never defrost at room temperature.
Tip 3: Always remove the neck and giblets and rinse your turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry.
Tip 4: When prepping the turkey, make sure that the raw turkey and its juices don’t come into contact with other food. Wash your hands, boards and utensils with hot water and soap, thoroughly and often.
Tip 5: If you stuff your turkey, figure about 1 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Stuffing increases the cooking time 5-7 minutes per pound.
Tip 6: Never stuff the bird with hot or warm dressing and never ahead of time. Stuff it just before you put it in the oven. Don’t pack it in too tightly as it does expand.
Tip 7: Rub butter or vegetable oil over the skin of the turkey. This will help the skin brown. You can also add 1 cup of chicken broth or stock to the bottom of the pan before beginning the cooking. This will create a steam environment and keep the breast moist, but will not prevent browning. Your oven temperature should be 350 degrees.
Tip 8: Use a meat thermometer. When done, it should read 165 degrees when placed in the thigh (away from the bone).
Tip 9: If it seems as though your turkey is browning too quickly, place a tent of aluminum foil over the top.
Tip 10: And finally but really important, allow the turkey to rest, covered, for about 30 minutes to redistribute the juices and to help with carving.
One Final Tip: Relax, take a deep breath and have a very happy Thanksgiving!
About the authors: John and Patty are proud Italian Americans, and, as one would expect, have been cooking and baking for years. This brother-sister team created Sweet Memories Cooking as a way to preserve their beloved recipes and traditions for family and friends. They invite you to “Join the Family” and visit their website at www.sweetmemoriescooking.com.