All right, you drew the short straw. You’re hosting Thanksgiving and you haven’t the faintest clue on how to get it all done. Thankfully, Butterball is here to help—at least with the turkey component of your menu.
If you want a moist, juicy, succulent, delectable bird, here are five tips to get you there. The rest is gravy.
It’s the number one cause of takeout on Thanksgiving weekend. But if you need to thaw your turkey in a hurry, here’s what you have to do: fully submerge the bird, breast side down, in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes (it should take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw completely).
MOIST MAY BE A GROSS WORD, BUT NOT WHEN IT COMES TO TURKEY TALK
For a moist, juicy bird, first and foremost, the turkey needs to be fully thawed. If the turkey is even a teensy bit frozen, the ice crystals in the meat will melt and steam the turkey from the inside. Which means, it’s drying it out as it cooks.
Also, use a meat thermometer. Because an overcooked turkey is a dry turkey—the opposite of what you want. The goal? 180F in the thickest part of the thigh.
Finally, let it rest. While the turkey is loosely tented under some foil (at least 20 minutes on the counter to let the juices redistribute), use your time wisely. Make the gravy with the drippings, mash the potatoes, mix up another round of cocktails.
As far as size goes, the general rule is 1.5 pounds per person. But, hey, it’s not a cooking crime to have leftovers.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Some people don’t want to be left with loads of leftovers–we call those people crazy (kidding…sort of). Seriously, though, instead of preparing a whole bird, why not try a turkey roast? It cooks the exact same way as you would a whole turkey: just rub the roast with vegetable oil, then pop it in a roasting pan until the thickest part of the meat reaches 165F. And like with any cut of meat, make sure it rests.
But if you really want that whole turkey feel, remember the general rule: 1.5 pounds per person.
THAT SATISFYING CRUNCH
In order to achieve that crispy skin on the turkey, keep in mind that moisture is your enemy. So before you prepare the bird, make sure to blot dry the skin. Then rub the turkey with a neutral oil, like canola, before you place it in the oven for a beautiful golden appearance. Also, when you’re tenting your bird (wrapping it in foil), make sure the foil covers it loosely. If the steam gets trapped under the cover, you’ll end up with soggy skin, not that oh-so-satisfying snap.
For those who have leftovers but don’t want soup or sandwiches, put a twist on your extra turkey with this recipe:
Thai Turkey Stir-Fry
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
What you need
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 1/2 cups sliced onion
- 1 1/2 cups sliced red pepper
- 1/4 cup red curry paste
- 1 lb cooked turkey, cut into strips
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup crushed unsalted peanuts
- 4 lime wedges
What you do
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, cook garlic, ginger, onions, red pepper and red curry paste for one minute. Stir in turkey until well coated. Pour coconut milk over top, continue cooking for another 3 minutes or until heated. Stir in snow peas and cook for 1 minute.
- Serve 1 cup of the stir-fry over 1 cup of cooked basmati rice. Garnish with 2 tbsp each of cilantro and peanuts. Squeeze lime over top and enjoy.
Recipe adapted from Butterball.