Preparing the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

QUESTION: Does the Quality of the Turkey really matter?
The perfect Thanksgiving turkey starts with the quality of the Turkey you purchase. So, look for an all natural Turkey; one that’s raised without antibiotics, hormones, preferably free range, and also one that’s not overly injected with sodium and other solutions.

QUESTION: What is a proper brine?
Brining a turkey is a great way to help ensuring you retain moisture during the cooking process and can even help prevent drying out a Turkey if you overcook it. There are a lot of brining recipes to be found online, but basically a brine is a salt and generally sugar based solution that you soak the turkey in for a couple of hours or even overnight, so that it ends up absorbing into the bird, and again, helping prevent some of that dryness and increasing the flavor of the bird.

QUESTION: Should you have the turkey rest before and after cooking?
Resting a turkey is an important part of the cooking process both before and after. When you first take your turkey out of the refrigerator, letting it sit on the counter for a half an hour to 45 minutes will help it come up in temperature a little bit, so the cooking time will be reduced and will cook more evenly. After you’ve cooked your turkey on the back end, letting it rest a little bit before you cut it, allows the juices to reabsorb throughout the turkey more evenly. So you don’t end up getting a dry turkey as resolved of cutting it too soon and having the juices run.

QUESTION: why do you cook turkey without stuffing?
My mom would argue with me on the cooking stuffed versus unstuffed, but in general, from a food safety standpoint, you want to cook a turkey unstuffed. In order to get the stuffing up to a proper temperature where it’s safe to eat, you generally end up over cooking the meat in the turkey. So, we always recommend cooking your stuffing separately, and then technically some people would then call that addressing instead of a stuffing.

QUESTION: What, if anything, can I put in the Turkey?
Use the cavity to add some more flavor to the bird by loosely, stuffing it with some apples, Sage, other herbs, anything you’d like even lemon, citrus, are good options to stuff inside the cavity, but don’t pack it tightly.

QUESTION: How do you cook your turkey?
There are a lot of different ways to cook a turkey. Most importantly is to make sure you’re cooking the turkey to a proper temperature. Generally, you want to cook a Turkey to about 160 degrees inside the joint between the thigh and the bird itself, or 160 degrees in the breasts. And when you let it rest, it will come up to a higher temperature. Some people argue for a lower temperature than that, but to be safe, you want to be up around that 160 degree mark. generally how you cook a bird depends on the type of oven you have the equipment you have. If you have a convection oven, you can cook the bird, just a regular 350-375 degree temperature until it reaches the appropriate temperature. For people with standard ovens, non-convection, a good trick is to start at a very high temperature, like 500 degrees, put the turkey in there for about five minutes and then lower the temperature down to about 350 degrees to finish the cooking process.