Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Turkey Time

Turkey Time!

The most daunting task for anyone getting ready to prepare Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. You may overwhelm yourself with questions like what size should I get? How long should I cook it? How should I season it? It is actually really easy to cook a turkey and this blog post will teach you what you need to know for turkey success!

Types of Turkey

  • A classic Butterball turkey usually comes frozen and is injected with liquid and oil. These additions keep the turkey moist and flavorful as it cooks.
  • All natural turkeys do not have artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics. They usually cost a bit more, but have really good flavor.
  • Kosher turkeys have been killed in a humane way under the supervision of a rabbi. They are also brined to remove impurities giving this turkey a saltier flavor.
  • Organic turkeys are generally all natural and have been fed an organic feed.
  • How big of a turkey do you need

    Generally speaking you should allow for 1.5 lbs of whole turkey per guest. This will take into account for bones and lost water weight. Also, make sure your oven is big enough for your turkey. If it is not, think about buying two smaller turkeys or buy an extra turkey breast so you will have enough food for everyone.

    Now its time to prepare the bird for cooking

  • You will need to defrost the turkey one of two ways. First you can defrost the turkey under running cold water. This method will take 2-3 hours and is great if you are in a pinch for time. The second way is to let the turkey defrost in the refrigerator and will take several days to defrost. Never let a turkey defrost at room temperature!
  • The next step is to remove the organs from the inside of the bird. There will be a bag on the inside of the turkey cavity and will contain the heart, liver neck and giblets.
  • Rinse the turkey under cold water and then dry completely with paper towels.
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side down and season the well with salt, pepper and dried herbs like parley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Herbs can be dried or chopped fresh. Remember to season the turkey outside, under the skin and inside the cavity.
  • Drizzle the bird with oil or melted butter and make sure to get some inside the turkey.
  • Take 4 chopped carrots, 3 chopped celery ribs and , 2 chopped onions and place some inside and around the turkey. Pour 2 cups of water or white wine in the bottom of the pan. This liquid will be a good start to the basting liquid.
  • Now you are ready to cook your turkey.

  • You should give yourself 2.5 – 5 hours prior to your meal to get this done depending on the size of your turkey. A whole turkey will need about 15 minute per pound in the oven.
  • First place your prepped bird in a 450º F oven for the first 30 minutes. Then cover the turkey with foil and cook at 325º F until the internal temperature reaches 165º F.
  • After the first hour baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The best way to cook the perfect bird is to invest in an inexpensive meat thermometer. Place the probe into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone. When the turkey has reached 165º F, your turkey is ready to take out of the oven.
  • Carefully remove the turkey out of the oven, cover with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  • Once you turkey is done it is time to reheat your sides and warm up your biscuits. Now its time to slice and serve the turkey to your guests.

  • First carefully remove the legs, and wings at the joints and palace them on a platter.
  • Slice the breast meat by first slicing down both sides of the breast bone and along the rib cage. From here you can remove the whole breast with little waste and slice the breast for serving. Arrange the sliced turkey on the platter with sliced meat from the thighs and pour some of the hot turkey juices on top before you bring it to the table.
  • Pan Gravy

  • Now you can make a easy pan gravy by pouring the juices from the pan into a container and remove the fat.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of the fat into a pan with an equal amount of flour. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in 2-3 cups of turkey juice or stock until smooth and cook for another 10 minutes until thick and smooth.
  • Turkey Soup

    After you have removed all of the meat from the bones, remember that there is one extra awesome step to get the most out of your turkey. Make an easy turkey soup by throwing the bones, onions celery and carrots into a pot, covering with cold water and simmering for 4 hours. Remove the bones from the pot and enjoy!

    Now Get Crackin'!

    Happy Thanksgiving from Chef Egg!!!


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