EATS | TALKING TURKEY [TIPS] WITH VIRGINIA EATS+ DRINKS

Gobble, gobble!

TURKEY TRUISMS

Here are some of our top turkey tips for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Cheers!

THAWING

  • Thaw your bird 6 hours per pound in the refrigerator or a half-hour per pound under cold, running water

BRINE YOUR BIRD

  • The salt in the brine helps break down meat tissues, which allows the turkey to absorb seasonings. It also makes for a more tender turkey.
  • Brine the turkey in a covered container such as a stockpot or bucket that should fit on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator
  • Before brining your turkey, remove the neck and giblets from the bird.
  • A basic ratio for brine is 2 cups kosher salt to 2 gallons of water, you can also add 1 cup or so of sugar if desired. Start by dissolving salt (and sugar, if using) in 2 cups of hot water, stirring frequently, then adding the rest of the water. 
  • Add additional flavorings, such as: 
  1. A cup or so of apple juice, orange juice, or vegetable broth
  2. A half cup or so of maple syrup, soy sauce, or whiskey
  3. A handful of candied ginger, broken cinnamon sticks, or crushed garlic cloves
  4. Generous pinches of bay leaves, dried thyme, oregano, peppercorns, ground pepper, rosemary, sage
  5. Several apples, lemons, onions, oranges, and pears cut into quarters
  6. A heaping tablespoon or two of packed, dark brown sugar
  • Refrigerate the turkey in brine at least 8 hours, but no longer than 24 hours; the general rule is to bring one hour per pound
  • When the bird is finished, pour off the brine, rinse the turkey with cool tap water, and pat it dry. Avoid any rubs. 
  • Consider setting the turkey in the refrigerator to dry for several hours or so to get a crispy skin, like you do with a Peking duck.

COOKING

  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Tuck in the turkey wings, pull the legs in close and tie, seal the cavity if stuffed with poultry skewer
  • Place the bird on a rock in a shallow roasting pan and brush with vegetable oil; sprinkle with herbs, salt, and the like
  • Cover the turkey loosely with extra-heavy aluminum foil; leave space between the bird and the foil
  • Tuck in the foil around the front, the back, and the sides
  • Remove the foil about 30 minutes before the bird is finished to allow it to brown
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and place on the carving board or serving platter
  • Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and let it stand at least 10 minutes before carving

COOKING TIMES

Here are the time guidelines to cook your turkey:

  • 6 – 8 pounds bird – 3 – 3-1/2 hours
  • 8 – 12 pounds -bird – 3-1/2 – 4-1/2 hours
  • 12 – 16 pounds bird – 4-1/2 – 5-1/2 hours
  • 16 – 20 pounds bird –  5-1/2 – 6 hours
  • 20 – 24 pounds bird – 6 – 6-1/2 hours

Add around a half-hour or so if bird is stuffed

When using a meat thermometer, the turkey should register:

  • 165F in center of dressing if stuffed
  • 180F in thickest part of thigh (do not touch bone) if not stuffed

SERVING GUIDELINES AMOUNT

Per adult, plan on serving this amount of turkey

  • 1/2 pound per person for light eaters
  • 1 pound per person for big eates
  • Double the amounts if you want leftovers
  • Allow  1 – 2 ounces stuffing per person

Per child plan on serving this amount of turkey

  • 1/4 pound per person for light eaters
  • 1/2 pound per person for big eates
  • Double the amounts if you want leftovers
  • Allow 1/2 – 1 ounces stuffing per person

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