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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"How to" Series: Cooking a Turkey

A delectable turkey is a done deal if you carefully follow these tried and true turkey tips.

1) A turkey needs adequate time to defrost (at least 4 to 5 days in the fridge). Check your turkey the day before your gathering to make sure it is defrosted. If you need to defrost a turkey in a pinch, fill up your kitchen sink with cold water so that the turkey is completely covered.

2) After your turkey is fully defrosted, open packaging and discard. Rinse turkey well, and pick off stray feathers. Remove neck and paper pouch under the skin containing gizzards. Pat dry with paper towels.

3) Butter bird inside and out. Use approximately one stick of softened butter and a paper towel.

4) Season well with Tony’s Chachere and garlic powder or salt and pepper if you like less of a kick. Rub seasoning inside turkey and underneath skin. Then sprinkle seasoning on top of skin and rub well.

5) Stuff bird loosely right before cooking. Stuffing too early can cause food borne illness. For each pound of turkey, plan on ¾ cup of stuffing.

6) Tie legs together with kitchen twine. This is called trussing your turkey. It helps it to cook evenly.

7) Put turkey in roaster breast side up.

8) Tent breast with foil. Add 2-3 cups of water to roaster so turkey does not burn. About every 45 minutes, remove foil tent and baste bird with pan juices. Re-cover breast with tent after basting. Remove foil tent during the last thirty minutes of cooking. Return to oven to brown breast.

9) Bake turkey at 325 degrees for the amount of time specified on the packaging. Be aware that a stuffed bird takes approximately one hour longer to cook. Cook until the stuffing reaches 165 degrees and the deepest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

10) Let turkey rest for 30 minutes while making gravy and finishing up side dishes. To make gravy, fill measuring cup with 2 cups of cold water. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup of flour. Make sure there are no lumps. Boil pan drippings from roaster and then slowly add flour mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If you like your gravy thinner, add a little more water to the pan. If you want it thicker, add 2-3 tablespoons of flour to 1/3 cup of cold water and slowly stir into gravy mixture.

Enjoy! And have a blessed Thanksgiving!


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