Want to make sure your holiday turkey is prepared correctly, looks great and taste delicious? It’s time to get ready for the holiday season. And you know what that means. Holidays mean fun with the family, family activities and great food. Great cooking is not by chance. It takes experience and a few tips of the trade to guarantee a perfect meal every time. Restaurant chefs are not the only ones who can make a meal that everyone will rave about. With good training, tips from the pros, clean meat and a few quality items from the supermarket, your turkey can be delicious. Not only will your family ask for second and third helpings, others will be asking you to cook a turkey and even offering to pay you for your time and effort.
If cooking is not something you are skilled at, or if cooking is just not your thing, you can still place a delicious looking and tasting meal on the table. It takes only a little effort , time and preparation. Some of us can make a turkey taste delicious just by looking at it. Others need time, practice and the help of good quality products such as name brand turkeys and seasonings.
Select the Best Holiday Turkey
To prepare a great turkey, one must first purchase a turkey of good quality. The best turkeys on the market are not always name brand or those costing the most. Select a turkey from Winn Dixie, Publix, Food Tiger or even Wal-Mart. Store Brand Turkeys can be good choices if you know the quality. Ask someone you trust if they have tried the store brand and follow their recommendations. If you are not sure about the store brand, purchase name brand turkeys like Honeysuckle White or Butterball.
Allow Enough Time for Your Holiday Turkey To Defrost
A 20 pound turkey is not going to defrost in one day. Your turkey must be completely defrosted before you can season it properly. A frozen turkey must have time to defrost. Allow your turkey to defrost in the refrigerator for at least three days. Its best not to purchase a turkey that shows signs of being defrosted then refrozen. When purchasing your turkey, check the sell by date to assure you have one of the freshest turkeys your supermarket has to offer. Sometimes, the store may purchase large quantities before the holidays. If so, they might have defrosted and later been refrozen. Take time to look carefully through the selections offered and find the turkey with the closest date to the sell by date.
Clean Your Holiday Turkey Thoroughly
You never know the environment in which your turkey has been handled. To guarantee all foreign objects or debris is removed from your turkey, wash it thoroughly inside first and then outside. Washing is done by using clear warm water. Please do not use any detergent on your meat. Wash your turkey thoroughly under the skin and on top. After your first wash, place your turkey in a large container with enough warm water to cover the turkey. Allow the turkey to sit in the water for at least twenty minutes to loosen any remaining debris. Remove your turkey and throw away the water. Wash your turkey one last time with warm water paying close attention to any grooves and crevices. Take a good look at the turkey to guarantee there are no foreign objects remaining. When finished, your turkey should feel clean to the touch. If the turkey feels slick, sticky or slimy, wash it again.
Dry and Season Your Holiday Turkey
To dry the turkey, allow it to sit on a paper towel for a few seconds while using another paper towel to pat the outside dry. Do not pat inside the cavity. When the turkey has been dried, it is now time to add your seasonings. Add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, sage, accent and any other favorite meat seasonings. Sprinkle the seasonings over the entire turkey. Rub the seasonings into the meat. Make sure seasonings have been rubbed under the skin and inside the cavity. Add slices of onion and celery under the skin and on top. If you like to use butter, spread slices of butter around your turkey, in the cavity, over and under the legs and wings. Place a whole onion inside the cavity. After seasoning your turkey, cover it with foil and place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the seasonings to soak in. The longer it remains in the refrigerator the better. Allow the turkey to marinade no less than 30 minutes and no longer than 12 hours or overnight.
Bake Your Holiday Turkey
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Most turkeys come with a timer inserted deep into the thickest part of the breast meat. All turkeys have baking instructions on the cover. Generally, the time to allow for baking is indicated in hour increments based on the weight. Do not overcook or under-cook your turkey. Follow the instructions carefully making sure to baste and check your turkey at hour intervals. Basting is important to guarantee a moist turkey. Cover the turkey with foil even if you have a covered roaster. Place your covered turkey in the oven. Foil seals the turkey and keeps the juices flowing. If not covered tightly, meat juices will evaporate and the turkey can dry out. After your turkey has baked and is completely done, uncover it to allow the meat to become golden brown. If you want to guarantee a beautiful golden brown, turn on the broiler for a few seconds. Make sure to keep a close eye on the turkey so as not to allow it to burn. Remove your turkey from the oven. Remove the foil and baste the turkey one last time. Loosely replace the foil and allow your turkey to rest for at least fifteen minutes. If you cut into the turkey right out of the oven, the juices will be released and begin to flow. In addition, the meat will be hard to cut. Allowing it to rest for a few minutes seals the juices and also makes slicing easier.
Following these instructions will guarantee your turkey is delicious and moist. Cooking a good meal is not hard. As my husband one said, “you have to prepare your food with love.” I have remembered that statement since. Food always taste so much better when love is included in the preparation process.