by Julie Snyder
Thanksgiving is days away. It's also when everyone you know starts asking you how to cook the perfect turkey.
Are you scratching your head wondering the same?
Contrary to popular belief, cooking a turkey is easier than roasting a chicken.
In the spirit of holiday giving, we want to share our tried-and-true tips for the perfect turkey. Don't miss out on a single suggestion!
Choose the best bird you can afford. Free range, organic? Sure if you can. But if your budget insists on a more economical choice, try for a fresh turkey. Your next choice is frozen with no or very small ice crystals.
First things first: thaw your bird completely before putting it in the oven. Thaw it in the fridge for a few days - up to four, depending on the size of your turkey.
Some argue that rubbing the entire bird with fat, inside and out, doesn't affect the flavor, but I disagree. It depends on the fat, though - olive oil won't give you a flavor boost, but butter mixed with a heaping dose of salt and herbs will yield a tasty dish indeed.
The best way to keep the breast moist is so simple that people find it hard to believe. All you do is cover (cover, not "tent") the breast area (not the wings or legs) with foil before the turkey goes into the oven. This effectively slows the cooking down in this area, and also creates steam to keep the breast moist. During the last hour or so of the roasting time, just remove the foil and baste the bird a couple of times:
You want the entire thing to roast evenly and have crispy skin all over, so consider elevating it off the surface of the roasting pan. A good-sized roasting rack will do the trick, which allows air to circulate under the bird - crisping it all the way around.
Our members shared two ways they keep the breast moist. If you'll be carving in the kitchen and don't care how it looks, just how it taste, try baking with the breast down. Or cover the breast with thick slices of bacon. As the turkey baked, fat is released, coats and prevents moisture loss.
If you are a one-oven household, it's the best way to free up oven space. On top of that, there's no messy roasting pan or grease-splattered oven to clean. Barbecuing is especially good if you live in a warm climate.
Avoid over baking by taking the bird's temperature. When it's hot enough in the thickest part of the thigh, pull it out of the oven.
Let your bird rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. A good 20 minute nap will let everything settle and keep the moisture where it belongs -- in the meat.
Which do you prefer? Cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, pickled green beans? Whichever, they'll be the perfect compliment for your best turkey ever!
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.