For those of you who enjoy Thanksgiving or for anyone who enjoys a turkey now and then, GKC has our “Best Turkey” tips of 2011.
1. Accurate Temperature: Make sure you have a calibrated oven, meaning the oven thermostat is reading correctly and a good meat thermometer. Turkeys take about 20 minutes per pound (for a 8 – 12 lb bird) and about 15 minutes per pound for a 12 – 16 lb turkey. Another more accurate way to test doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The turkey should be cooked until an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I also like those pop-up disposable turkey plastic thermometers that are available this time of year. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees it pops up indicating that the turkey is cooked through.
2. Let the turkey rest. Let the turkey rest after it is cooked so that the juices remain in the meat and not all over the cutting board. To keep the turkey warm, as a whole or after slicing, cover the tray or cooking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and then with a bath towel. This forms a nice steam bath and keeps everything inside warm and moist.
3. To stuff or not to stuff? That is a popular question we get. Personally, I love the way the stuffing tastes when made in the turkey, BUT my general vote is to make stuffing muffins, or a separate stuffing, because the turkey, even big ones, just do not make enough stuffing to please a crowd. This way you can make plenty of stuffing, and still have room in the oven for other items.
4. Use chicken stock! Chicken stock is an amazing moisture enhancer. I drizzle some over the sliced turkey to keep it moist. Even the most perfectly roasted turkeys get dry very fast so keeping a little stock warmed on the side is a great way to keep everything moist.
5. Carve it right.
• Let the meat rest.
• Set up a large cutting board so that it will not move while cutting. Sharpen a large knife.
• Cut the turkey along the breastbone with a sharp knife, pulling the meat away from the bone as you cut so you can see where you’re going. This is a crosswise cut against the grain.
• Cut down and around on an angle, separating the entire breast from the bird.
• Carve the breast on an angle, then place pieces on a serving platter.
• Pull the leg away from the carcass and find the joint between the leg and thighbone and separate them with the knife. If you like, cut the meat off the leg.