Preparing a Turkey: 101
A good turkey is the star of the show for Thanksgiving, so there can be a lot of pressure to cook it right- especially if you’ve never done it before! It’s important to make sure it’s cooked to the proper temperature to prevent any risks, but along with that no one wants a dry turkey. With our tips, we will help you get a perfect, moist, flavorful roasted turkey every time.
Preparing a Turkey: 101
Before we get started, it’s essential that your turkey is thawed before you begin cooking. According to a quick google search, it is recommened to defrost it by placing in the fridge for 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs. So, if you have a 10 lb. turkey, you want to place it in the fridge at least 48 hours before you want to start cooking it. We recommend giving yourself an extra day to be on the safe side. But, brining your turkey adds more time to that. So, give yourself an extra day or two if you plan to do a brine.
Before adding your seasoning, we recommend brining your turkey resulting in an incredibly flavorful and moist bird. There are two ways to do this: a dry brine or a wet brine.
- Dry brine is simply coating the outside of your thawed turkey with Regal Fine Sea Salt (#1146), then letting it sit in the refrigerator for 24-72 hours before roasting it. This draws the moisture out, then as it cooks, the salt adds more juices and a crispier exterior. For an extra crispy skin, add Clabber Girl Baking Powder (#2847).
- Wet brine is soaking your turkey in a saltwater mixture for 12-24 hours, infusing the moisture into the turkey. With a wet brine, you’ll get a deliciously moist turkey.
First, separate the skin from the meat. Doing this ensures that the seasoning is on the meat, and lets the skin gets crispier. Overall, we think it makes the turkey turn out better.
- Our go-to seasonings include fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, Kirkland Minced Garlic (#1289), Kirkland Salted Sweet Cream Butter (#1723), Regal Coarse Sea Salt (#1147), and freshly ground AP Whole Black Peppercorns (#1030).
- We love this idea for a Cranberry Orange Glaze from foodnetwork.com.
- Swap the cranberry sauce with Pioneer Valley Hot Riotous Raspberry Fancy Jam (#3006). The sweet tartness of raspberries with fire roasted jalapenos, onions, cilantro, peppers, hickory smoke and an array of spices compliments turkey nicely.
- Surely we aren’t the only ones who have binged Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted on Disney+! His recipe for Roast Turkey with Lemon, Parsley and Garlic looks wonderful.
- For a fun twist, smother your turkey with a jar or two of award-winning San Saba Peach Pecan & Amaretto Preserves (#1483)
There are a few ways to prepare a turkey, and it really comes down to personal preference. Our favorite methods are using the oven or smoker, but whichever method you choose, just make sure the internal temperature reaches 165F.
To prevent it from drying out, we remove it around 5 degrees less than it needs to be cooked (so, 160F for white meat, and 170F for dark meat) and cover it with Kirkland Premium Quality Foodservice Foil (#1963), as it will continue to cook a little bit as it rests.
- Oven. Cover the turkey in a Choice Half Size Foil Deep Steam Table Pan (#2391) with a loose tenting of foil and roast at 325F for about 13-15 minutes per pound. Once the internal temperature reaches 150F, turn the oven up to 400F and roast until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165F for white meat, and 175F for dark meat.
- Smoker. Place turkey in a Choice Half Size Foil Deep Steam Table Pan (#2391) and smoke at 325F for about 13-15 minutes per pound. Once the internal temperature reaches 150F, turn the smoker up to 400F and roast until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 160F for white meat, and 170F for dark meat.
- Crock Pot. Line your crock pot with a PanSaver Slow Cooker Liner (#1089), then add the turkey along with 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on high fo 3 to 4 hours, low for 7 to 8 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165F for white meat, and 175F for dark meat. Let rest before serving.
- Instant Pot. Add turkey to pot and cook on Manual for 6 minutes per lb. of turkey. Let Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pot, and broil until the skin is crispy and golden.
How to Carve a Turkey
Before carving your bird, let it sit 20-30 minutes with a foil tent. You will need a sharp knife, a cutting board, and a serving platter. The Kitchn shared these easy steps:
- Separate the leg and thigh from one side.
- Separate the drumstick from the thigh bone.
- Remove the breast and wing from the same side.
- Repeat with the other side.
- Slice up the breast and thigh pieces.
In our opinion, the best gravy always comes from turkey drippings. But, if you’re in a time crunch or don’t have drippings, Custom Culinary PanRoast Turkey Flavored Gravy Mix (#1254) works great too.
Best Turkey Gravy
- 2 1/2 cups turkey pan drippings
- 1/4 cup Kirkland Salted Sweet Cream Butter (#1723)
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- AP Coarse Sea Salt (#1147) and freshly ground AP Whole Black Peppercorns (#1030), to taste
- First, strain the drippings* and set aside.
- Then, in a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and thyme, cooking for a few minutes to create a roux or until golden brown.
- Now, slowly whisk in the drippings and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.
- Next, add the parsley, salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a gravy boat, and serve warm.
*If you don’ mind the bits in your gravy, you can skip this step.