Brine, baste or both? That’s the big question millions of Americans are contemplating for the big meal this Thursday. Thanksgiving is filled with many emotions, and getting the turkey right helps keep the peace, or at least restores sanity for the eating portion of the day.
Personally, I’m a salt, pepper, butter and baster. My family always kept the turkey simple, and while I’ve ventured outside the box (literally) with stuffing, I’m not one to use fancy glazes or cram a bunch of herbs under the skin. I like to think this is the best way to show off the true flavor of a great tasting turkey.
Regardless of brining or basting, here are a few essential tips to make sure your crisp-skinned roasted turkey dreams are fulfilled come the big day.
Is it done yet? Knowing when your turkey is ready shouldn’t be a guessing game. Invest in an instant read thermometer, so you’ll know when the thigh-meat is cooked to 175ºF. That’s the magic time to remove your turkey from the oven. It will reach the proper serving temperature of 185ºF after a resting period (see next tip).
Let it be. Want to really ensure a juicy bird? Then give it a rest after roasting. This helps the juices redistribute back into the meat, and also makes it much easier to cut even slices that won’t shred or fall apart. An average 14 pound turkey should rest about 30 to 40 minutes, so plan accordingly when telling guests what time dinner will be served.
The gravy train. Forget about baste, brine, rubs and marinades. As everyone approaches the table, they all have gravy on the brain. It’s a universal condiment for the turkey, taters and bread basket. Good gravy means no lumps, so ask for help and make sure someone is assigned to stirring duty.