What is the secret for a moist and juicy turkey?
Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by US President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November. It marks a time for celebration to give thanks, be close to family and friends, and of course, feast on a delectable traditional meal. The pièce de résistance of any Thanksgiving meal is, of course, the turkey. This large bird native to the Americas is often served with cranberry sauce, stuffing and roast vegetables, and is typically followed by pumpkin pie for dessert. Given its generous size, it is the perfect poultry choice when hosting a meal with a large number of guests – just like when you have your friends and family all in one place at Thanksgiving. We’ve got some excellent tips on how to get your turkey deliciously moist and juicy, we promise your guests will be asking for seconds.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TURKEY
Finding the perfect turkey is the first step to a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. It is important to know how many people you will be feeding too, to get the size of the turkey right. The general rule of thumb is one pound of turkey for each adult, plus a little extra to be safe. You may also want to consider purchasing two smaller birds rather than one huge one – what’s more, they’ll cook quicker too. We recommend purchasing a fresh (not frozen) bird, without any added ingredients. Fresh turkeys can be kept in the fridge for up to a day before you begin preparing it. You can often reserve a turkey in advance at certain grocery stores and butchers. Organic, kosher, free-range, all-natural and premium brand turkeys are all great options. Besides the bird itself, it is important to factor in time and also the equipment you’ll use. There’s no point buying the perfect turkey only to realize it won’t cook in time for your dinner, or that your oven roaster or serving platter is too small to fit the turkey. A top-quality carving knife is also essential. Be prepared and don’t get caught out!
HOW TO COOK A PERFECTLY MOIST AND JUICY TURKEY
Start by “brining” the turkey. This means soaking it in salt water overnight in the fridge (generally using a brining bag). You can also add a few flavors to the brine if you so desire. Once your turkey is drained of the brine and ready for the next step, rub soft butter generously under the skin, herbs and spices can be added to the butter for extra deliciousness.
When your turkey is ready to go in the oven, place it upside-down in the oven tray first. Placing the turkey, breast side down, on a roasting rack for the first hour or so of roasting essentially allows it to baste itself. Any marks left by the rack will disappear once you flip the turkey over and finish roasting it. Make sure you get the temperature and timing in the oven right, we recommend using a meat thermometer to check. Aim for 170°F in the thickest part of the flesh (thigh). The final step is to let the turkey rest before carving. The intense heat of the oven forces the juices into the center of the bird, so after roasting, let the turkey rest for roughly 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute throughout the meat.
THANKSGIVING TURKEY TRADITIONS
The traditional Thanksgiving turkey is traditionally served with cranberry sauce, gravy, seasonal roast vegetables, Brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes. Not to mention the scrumptious pumpkin pie that often follows. Considering that the holiday falls in November, these are typically dishes using autumnal ingredients. The consumption of turkey on Thanksgiving is so ingrained in American culture that each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey to the President of the United States prior to each Thanksgiving. These turkeys were initially slaughtered and eaten for the President's Thanksgiving dinner; since 1989, the presented turkeys have typically been given a mock pardon to great fanfare and sent to a park to live out the rest of their natural lives.