Monday, November 8, 2010

tips for preparing a turkey dinner

At the store
You'll need about 1/2 pound of turkey per guest (1 pound if you want leftovers).  If you're having more than 30 people consider buying 2 smaller birds or a whole turkey and one or two breasts.  Turkeys that are over 18 pounds take longer to cook and tend to dry out.

To thaw
Place the frozen turkey in its original packaging on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any juices and put it in the refrigerator.  Plan on 5 hours of defrosting time per pound.  If you're short on time try cold water - fill your sink and place the packaged turkey in breast-side down. This method requies 30 minutes per pound.  change the water every hour so it stays cold.

While roasting
Basting helps the skin get crispy, but frequently opening the oven can cause the temperature to go down, resulting in increased cooking time and uneven roasting.  Take the pan out of the oven, close the door, baste and return to the oven.  Or rub with olive oil or butter before roasting, this has the same effect.

To know when it's done
Your turkey is ready to be taken out of the oven when its temperature reaches 165.  Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh but avoid touching the bone which can cause an inaccurate reading.  After removing the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.  It will continue to cook and the meat will retain its juices and say moist when carved.
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