Turkey is the iconic image of Thanksgiving to many Americans. Every year, many college students celebrate Thanksgiving by going home to their families where they enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, the epitome of a home-cooked meal. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most out of a Thanksgiving turkey.
– Brine. If brine is an unfamiliar concept, think of it as a marinade for a turkey, so it will be much more moist and flavorful. The turkey must sit in the brine for at least 10 to 14 hours (plan one hour for each pound of turkey). A good brine should have a ratio of about one cup of salt to one gallon of water. Although more than one gallon of water will be used, aim for this ratio. Also, try using sugar to counter the salt using the same one cup per gallon ratio. Make sure that the container used for the brine cannot only hold the turkey, but that the turkey is submerged the entire time. When the turkey is ready for baking, rinse it under running cold water. Make sure that the salt is completely gone from the turkey.
– Most turkeys come frozen from the store. The best and most recommended way to defrost the poultry goodness is to use the refrigerator. It may take a bit longer than the microwave or a cold water bath overnight, but it keeps the turkey from being exposed from temperature that could possibly expose it to bacteria. One thing to remember when defrosting is to NOT leave the turkey out in room temperature. This is the quickest way for bacteria to infiltrate the meat and increase the possibility of food poisoning.
– When the turkey is stuffed, make sure to tie the legs together and cap the drumsticks and wings with bacon. This helps to prevent the meat on the drumsticks from peeling at the tips, since these can dry very quickly but add more flavor. Also, drizzle the turkey with olive or grape seed oil; these are healthier than vegetable or canola oil. Then, sprinkle a little crushed black pepper for flavor.
– Oven placement. The back of most ovens is usually the hottest part of the oven. Place the thickest part of the turkey facing the back so that it can cook and brown evenly. Also, make sure that the oven is racked so that the turkey is as centered as possible to help with an even cooking process.
– Basting. Remember to baste (moisten the turkey while cooking it) regularly, and often. Some people use a syringe to inject the flavor back into the turkey. If this method is used, be sure to inject evenly throughout the turkey. If using a traditional baster, be sure to coat the outside evenly and do not hesitate to use a brush to help spread the drippings back onto the turkey.
– Avoid using the pop-up thermometers. The popper usually pops up after the turkey is dry. One way to check if the turkey is ready is to use a barbecue stick and poke it into a thick but unnoticeable area. Check when the turkey has that golden-brown look and a crispness to the skin. Poke the turkey but go no further than the meat of the bird. Pull the stick out and if it is still moist (not bloody), the turkey is done.
– Make sure to cut off any string that was used to tie the legs and remove the caps used on the drumsticks. Place the turkey on the platter it will be served from and wait about 20 minutes before carving.
– To carve the turkey, make sure the carving blade is very sharp. Cut off the wings and drumsticks by cutting at the connecting joint. Slice diagonally against the grain.
Hopefully, these tips will help make you especially thankful for a great meal with friends and family. If you have anything you would like to know “how-to” do, email ajlacuesta@cbubanner. com
Happy Thanksgiving from all of the Banner staff!