Don't wait until the day before Thanksgiving to start prepping your turkey. There's lots to think about and some actions to take to make sure your turkey is ready to be enjoyed for Thanksgiving dinner! Here's everything you need to know!
You can either thaw your turkey: 1) In the fridge (this is the best method, but it requires more time) Or 2) In a cold water bath (this is quicker, but a bit more difficult)
- Allow 1 day in fridge for 4 pounds of turkey. So, if your turkey is 16 pounds, it will need to thaw for 4 days in fridge. - Use turkey within 4 days of thawing.
- Keep in cold water bath (completely covered) about 30 minutes per pound. So, if your turkey is 16 pounds, it will need to thaw for 8 hours in cold water bath. - However, note that water must be changed every 30 minutes.
Make a Brine Plan
Are you planning to brine your turkey? If so, decide what kind of brine. Most need to be prepped the day before you want to cook your turkey. There are lots of types of brines, but the most important question is wet or dry?
Brining is a technique that uses salt to increase a turkey's moisture and improves its flavor. Salt (and other flavors) can be infused into a turkey by using either a wet brine or a dry brine. Both require at least 8 hours, so you should plan in advance. Some turkey brands (like Butterball), use a brining solution in their turkeys and claim they don't need to be brined at home. But some people still like to do it for added moistness!
Wet Brine: A wet brine generally consists of water, salt, and aromatics (herbs, garlic, citrus, etc). The turkey will be full submerged in the solution and refrigerated for 8-24 hours. Dry Brine: A dry brine consists of salt and sometimes other aromatics. The mixture is rubbed on the turkey and in the cavity and the turkey is refrigerated for 12-24 hours.
A majority of Thanksgiving turkeys are cooked in the oven, but there are SO many ways to cook a turkey and you should decide on your method ahead of time.
Plan Cooking Method
1) Oven Roasting 2) Grilled 3) Slow Cooker 4) Deep Fried 5) Smoked 6) Sous-Vide 7) Convection Oven 8) Microwave (yes, this is possible!)
Planning to stuff?
You'll also want to decide if you're going to stuff your turkey or leave it unstuffed as this will alter cooking time. Lots of experts recommend keeping the stuffing on the side, but some people like stuffing the turkey, too.
Lots of people love the tradition of stuffing their Thanksgiving turkeys. BUT it's important to be aware of how to make a stuffed turkey safe to eat as undercooked stuffing is one of the main causes of salmonella on Thanksgiving.
- Be sure to stuff turkey loosely instead of packing it in. -Cook your turkey immediately after stuffing it. -Be sure stuffing is up to temperature; not just the turkey. Stuffing should be at 165 degrees in order to be safe to consume.
Make sure you have all the tools you'll need to cook and carve your turkey, so Thanksgiving morning can be a breeze.
Get Your Tools Ready
Here' are the most useful tools for cooking your Thanksgiving turkey: 1) Turkey Roasting Pan 2) Meat Thermometer 3) Fat Separator 4) Carving Board 5) Carving Knife 6) Brining Bag
Now you're ready to cook your turkey and enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends!