Tag butternut squash soup

10 Steps to Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

After today’s election, there will be nothing left for America to argue about, other than what to serve for Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps a spinach gratin and butternut squash and cider soup to spice up the usual fare of stuffing, yams and green beans… garlic mashed potatoes are a must and pumpkin bread pudding with caramel, too!

Of course, the unequivocal star of our annual harvest holiday is the turkey. In recent years, we’ve noticed all sorts of culinary treatments and trends for cooking the bird: deep fried, smoked, bbqed, glazed, basted, curried, brined or stuffed beyond stuffing – by this we mean the infamous turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken).

turkeyWe’re all for adventurous cooking, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, I choose not to mess with a good thing. Here are my 10 Simple Steps to a Perfectly Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey:

1. Order your turkey from a reputable meat purveyor at least one week prior to Thanksgiving, and pick it up the day before. A fresh turkey is more flavorful than a frozen turkey.

2. Ask your butcher to remove the wishbone. This way, you can slice the full-length of the breast.

3. Buy one pound of turkey per person or 1½ pounds if you want leftovers. Smaller turkeys are more tender, so order two small turkeys versus one large.

4. Once home, remove the bag of giblets from inside the cavity, rinse the turkey inside and out, and pat it dry with paper towels. This helps prevent bacterial growth. Refrigerate immediately. Bring to room temperature one hour before cooking.

5. Stuff the turkey just before roasting to prevent bacterial growth. Don’t overstuff. The stuffing expands while cooking and may cause the bird to explode!

6. While trussing the bird makes a prettier presentation, it is isn’t necessary and the bird will actually cook faster if untrussed. If you do truss the bird however, use kitchen twine not dental floss!

7. Rub the skin of the bird with butter or oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sweet paprika. The paprika makes the bird a turn a beautiful golden brown. Put the turkey, in a roasting pan, on a rack, so the heat can circulate. Fill the pan with 1/2 inch of water for basting and pan gravy.

8. Roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Then cover the breast meat with aluminum foil to keep the bird moist, and cook at 350 degrees until done. Baste every 30 minutes.

9. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thigh reaches 160 degrees. The breast may be a higher temperature since it cooks faster.

10. Before carving, let the bird rest for 30 minutes on a warmed platter covered with foil.

Brining the turkey before cooking will produce an even juicier roasted turkey. You’ll find my recipe for brining and roasting a turkey here. Oh, and let’s not forget the gravy. Try this favorite: Pan Gravy with Bourbon Recipe.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more great cooking tips and tricks for Thanksgiving Day. Parties That Cook’s Thanksgiving recipes can be found here.