It is almost that time of year again. The air is getting cooler and the leaves are starting to change, which is a sign that the holidays will be fast approaching. The holidays are hugely centered around food, whether it is holiday parties, cookie baking or the dinner themselves, cooking is a huge part of celebrating.
There is no better example of this than Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving turkey is at the center of the holiday and preparing a perfect turkey is much easier than you think.
First of all, you will want to decide what size turkey that will feed your guests. One handy rule of thumb is one pound per person. This amount will likely provide a generous amount to feed all your guests and leave you just enough for all those yummy holiday leftovers.
Once you determine what size turkey you need to buy, the next choice is brand. Your local grocery store will have a variety of brands available for you to choose from. Some brands, including your store brand turkey, will be very inexpensive, whereas others will be pricier but come with added benefits of built in thermometers to let you know when your bird is cooked to perfection. Whichever brand of turkey you choose, the secret to the perfect turkey is in the preparation.
The easiest and most foolproof way to achieve the tantalizing turkey you desire is to cook it in an oven bag. These are bags that take all the work out of cooking a turkey and leave little room for error. They also minimize the amount of cleanup you will have to perform. You can find them near the turkeys or in the plastic bag section.
Please remember that it will take a couple of days to thaw out your turkey if you buy it frozen. Too many Thanksgiving dinners have been ruined by a frozen turkey. The safest place to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator or in cold water. It is also important to remember safe guidelines for handling raw poultry when handling a turkey.
Once you have all your supplies, you just need to decide if you want to stuff your turkey or not. Many people feel that a stuffed turkey makes a prettier presentation with the added benefit that the stuffing will help flavor the turkey as it bakes. Whether your turkey is stuffed or not will directly impact how long it needs to cook. You can find exact baking instructions on the oven bags if you choose to use them. The cooking time will depend upon the weight of your turkey and if it is in an oven bag and/or stuffed. Regardless, the turkey needs to be at a temperature of 170-175 degrees at the thickest part of the breast to consume safely.
You will want to perform a few steps as you are preparing your turkey
* Make sure that your remove the neck and giblets from the body and neck cavity
* Drain and rinse your turkey and then blot dry with paper towels
* Stuff your turkey if desired making sure to retuck the legs
* Place your turkey in the oven bag or roaster with the breast side up
* Brush your turkey with butter and seasoning to keep the juices in.
Just by following these perfect steps and taking care not to overcook the turkey will reward you with a picture perfect turkey that even your mother would be proud of.
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