Having a dry turkey to serve on Thanksgiving is a concern for most cooks. There are many tips you can perform to insure that you have a moist and delicious turkey. Here are a few to consider:
- Before you begin, make sure you’re starting with a quality turkey that is fully thawed, washed and dried.
- Chose your cooking method, and know the temperatures and times needed to cook your weight of turkey. Be sure not to overcook your turkey! Although a turkey is traditionally roasted, you can also deep fry, grill, or smoke the turkey.
- Consider brining (presoaking in a salt solution) to give the meat more flavor and juiciness. If you do brine, make sure to adjust the salt used for seasoning accordingly.
- Coat the skin with an oil or butter before cooking and season to taste. Some cooks swear by putting butter or oil between the skin and breast of the turkey for extra moistness. If the thought of doing this task with your hands grosses you out, you can use a silicone spatula to do the deed.
- To stuff or not to stuff? Some cooks recommend cooking the stuffing outside of the turkey because the turkey may cook sooner than the stuffing, leading to dryness. On the other hand, stuffing can be delicious cooked in the turkey with the drippings added. If you do decide to stuff the turkey, make sure to stuff it loosely to help the meat to cook evenly.
- Instead of stuffing that you eat, consider putting halved lemons and onions in the turkey cavity to promote moisture and flavor. Do not overstuff and be sure to allow room for airflow.
- Prep the turkey for cooking. Pull the wing tips forward and tuck them under the breast to help prevent burning. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (or unflavored dental floss if you’re in a bind, no pun intended).
- Place the turkey on a roasting rack, or place on top of a mix of carrots, celery and onion to keep it from cooking in the drippings.
- Place about a half inch of broth in the roasting pan to help keep the oven moist.
- Cover the breast area with aluminum foil once it’s a golden color to prevent burning (if roasting), then remove the foil during the last 45 minutes of cooking.
- Don’t open the oven to check on your bird. It will cause the cooking temperature to fluctuate
- Remove the turkey when the temperature between the leg and the breast reads 180 degrees. If you stuffed the turkey, make sure the stuffing temperature is at least 165 degrees.
- Let your turkey “rest” for about 15-20 minutes between the time you remove it from the oven and the time you carve it.