As strange as it seems now, it’s thought that venison, ducks, and geese were served at the first Thanksgiving. These days, though, turkey is the meat of choice.
How can you make sure your bird is moist, delicious, and worry-free? Follow these tips.
Cooking The Perfect Bird
Plan Your Pounds
You’ll need about one pound of turkey per guest. Add up how many pounds you need for your guest list—and then tack on an extra few pounds if you love leftovers!
If you buy a fresh (not frozen) bird, store it in the fridge on a tray that can collect any leaking juices.
If you buy a frozen turkey, keep it in its original packaging and thaw it in the fridge. It usually takes 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird. You can also thaw the turkey in its wrapper submerged in cold water in a clean sink, advises the Mayo Clinic. For this method, plan for a half-hour per pound, and change the water every 30 minutes.
Get The Right Temperature
It takes about four-and-a-half hours to roast a 20-pound turkey at 325°. Use a food thermometer to check for a minimum internal temperature of 165°.
Butter The Skin
Brush the turkey skin with melted butter or oil before roasting. This adds flavor and helps with browning.
Baste With Care
If you decide to baste, do so only up until the last hour of roast time, otherwise crisp skin can turn soft.
When shopping for a Thanksgiving turkey, you may come across some labels on the bird’s packaging. Read up on the terms and what they mean.