With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, you may already be planning your holiday menu. However, the question of how to cook a turkey could be throwing you for a loop. Fortunately, we have dedicated ourselves to finding the best methods of cooking a turkey to minimise the possibility of failure.
Defrost well in advance
One of the most common mistakes home cooks make when thinking about how to cook a turkey is not factoring in defrost times when planning their day. Typically, turkeys are sold frozen and it’s tempting to leave your turkey in your freezer until the day before you plan on cooking it. However, due to the sheer density of this type of meat, you will need to give it a few days to thaw out. You could leave your turkey in the fridge, or place it in cold water. Although the latter is a faster defrosting method, you need to remember to change out the water every thirty minutes.
After your turkey has defrosted you might feel ready to pop it straight into the oven. However, that is not quite how to cook a turkey. The next step is to make a brine. This is a saltwater solution that you use to soak your turkey. There are numerous reasons for this step but the most significant is the moisture it adds to the meat. The salt also permeates every nook and cranny of the bird, packing it with flavour. This is a great way to season poultry and you could even use this trick on your next roast chicken.
Butter is better
The key to getting crispy skin when you cook a turkey is butter. Once your turkey has been in the brine for a few hours, you should remove it and dry the bird with a kitchen towel. After all the excess water is removed, take some butter and carefully stuff it in between the skin and the meat, taking care not to pierce the skin. After this, you should take even more butter and spread it over the skin for an even golden bake.
Don’t forget the stuffing
Besides the Brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce, the turkey stuffing may just be the most important side dish at the Thanksgiving table. Take sliced bread and sprinkle with your favourite herb blend before adding chicken stock and more butter. Would it even be classified as American cuisine without tons of butter? Once you’ve prepared this mixture you can place it inside the turkey before it goes in the oven.
The key to a good bake
Preparation is only a small part of how to cook a turkey. The real secret lies in your oven. The general rule of thumb is to keep your turkey in the oven for half an hour per kilogram of weight. It’s also a good idea to place your bird breast side down for the first half of the cooking time to ensure it stays moist and juicy.