Here at Yours.co, we want to help make your holiday season one to remember. Don’t let a dry turkey ruin your Thanksgiving feast. Here are 7 tips from the experts on how to cook a moist and juicy bird:
If possible, buy fresh, instead frozen. According to Fine Cooking, “Ice crystals that form during freezing damage a turkey’s muscle cells. When the bird thaws and roasts, fluids leak more readily from the damaged cells, drying out the meat.
Store like Whole Foods let you reserve your turkey, so you’re guaranteed to get the freshest meat available.
Brining is basically soaking your turkey in a simple saltwater mixture in order to enhance flavor and lock in moisture. (Kind of like a marinade.) The result? Moist, flavorful, juicy turkey meat.
It’s a simple process; however, it does take time. Depending on the size of your turkey, it could take up to 12 hours. If you’ve never done it before, Betty Crocker gives great instructions on how to brine your bird to perfection.
Note: If you purchase a kosher turkey, don’t brine it! It already has a lot of salt.
Surprisingly enough, experts don’t recommend basting your turkey. Their reasoning? Every time you open the oven, you let the heat out, which means it will need to cook longer.
Epicurious explains further: “If you want juicy meat, basting the bird won’t help—brining or salting it is what guarantees moist turkey. In fact, every time you baste the bird, the juices merely run along the skin rather than actually infusing the meat.”
If you can’t stand the thought of leaving your bird unbasted, rub butter on the skin before you place it in the oven.
Instead of using a roasting rack, try layering vegetables instead. Line the bottom of your pan with carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic. (Use this recipe as a reference.)
According to the Food Network, “Lifting the turkey off the base of the pan helps to increase hot air circulation around the whole bird so that it will get crispy all over. And the vegetables add great flavor to the gravy.”
To truss or not to truss – that is the big question. When you truss your turkey legs tightly, they take a lot longer to cook, and you run the risk of overcooking the rest of your bird. If you’re going to truss, do it lightly.
For best results, experts from the New York Times food blog recommend removing the legs and cooking them separately.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have a quality meat thermometer. The last thing you want to do is cook your bird too long and end up with tough, dry meat. Ovoid opening the oven door and letting all the heat come out. Check the turkey only when necessary.
If you’re looking for crispy, perfect skin, Bon Appétit recommends, “[starting] the bird in a hot oven (425-475 degrees) for at least 20 minutes, then [reducing] the heat to 350 degrees for the rest of the cooking time.”
Wait at least 20 minutes before you carve your turkey. According to the Huffington Post, “A good 20 minute nap will let everything settle and keep the moisture where it belongs: in the meat.” After you’ve cut the turkey, let it soak in the leftover juices for a few minutes, allowing the flavors to soak in.
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