Long a holiday that has special meaning for families, Thanksgiving originally started as a religious holiday but has long since morphed into a predominantly secular holiday. However, there are always a handful of traditions assigned to Thanksgiving – pumpkin pie, football games on the television, and a delectable roasted turkey. Here are a few key tips to guarantee a tasty roasted turkey for your Thanksgiving celebrations.
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Thanksgiving Turkey Roasting Tips
The safe and proper way to cook and handle turkey.
Selecting a Turkey
When picking up a turkey, remember the following guidelines — 1-1/3 pounds of turkey per person should be perfect. 2 lbs each, and you’ll have leftovers.
“Fresh” only means that the turkey has not been exposed to temperatures under 26 degrees. A frozen turkey can sometimes be better than a fresh turkey that has been kept awhile at a just below frozen temperature. To get a “real” fresh turkey, visit your local turkey farm. Order your turkey in advance as they oftentimes sell out or only prepare enough for the orders that they have.
Thawing the Bird
Thaw your frozen turkey in the refrigerator in a large pan or container. Juices will penetrate the wrappings. Allow 24 hours for every four pounds of meat. Remember to remove the innards and neck as soon as you can. This will allow the turkey to thaw faster. Be sure to rinse the bird with cold water before you start the seasoning or stuffing process.
Stuffing the Turkey
Most experts advise cooking the stuffing separately. It’s easier and safer. If you do choose to stuff your bird, only stuff about 2/3s full as the stuffing will expand. Never stuff the turkey in advance.
Roasting a Turkey
Some people choose to roast a turkey slowly at 325 degrees. Others get a covered roaster and turn the heat up to 375 or 400. Either is fine as long as you use a meat thermometer when cooking your turkey. An instant-reading thermometer is easiest. The thickest part of the breast should be cooked to 175 degrees F. Cook the thigh to 185 degrees and the stuffing to 165 degrees. Cook the bird breast side up. If you are cooking without a roaster, a foil tent can be used so that the bird doesn’t become too browned.
Let the Turkey Rest
When the turkey is done, let the turkey rest for 20 mins before you slice it. Remove the legs and wings first to get easier access to carving the breast, then proceed to removing the remaining meat.
Storing the Leftover Turkey
It’s best to remove leftover turkey meat from the bone. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Store leftover stuffing separately. Use the refrigerated leftovers within three days. Use the frozen leftovers within two months.