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8 Tips for a Turkey You'll be Thankful For

Consider yourself lucky if you've never had a dried out and overcooked bird on Thanksgiving. It’s unfortunately pretty easy to overlook just one or two crucial steps and end up serving a dry, flavorless bird. Whether it's your first Thanksgiving or your thirtieth, our top 8 tips will ensure a moist and tender bird every time. 

  1. Make sure your turkey is fully thawed before adding any flavor. If you’re able to get a fresh turkey, obviously that will be the best tasting. Frozen turkeys work just fine too. When brining a turkey, be sure to give yourself an extra 24 hours on top of the normal thawing time. So if your turkey is going to take 3 days to thaw, pull it out 4 days ahead of time. This way the turkey will be thawed in 3 days, with one full day for brining. Brine will not work a frozen turkey.  

  2. Brine the turkey breast side down. The white meat of the turkey is the most likely to dry out during cooking based on the lower fat content of white meat. You can rotate the turkey every 3 to 4 hours if you like, but it’s not necessary.  

  3. Do not over brine the turkey. Only brine the turkey for about 1 hour per pound of meat. If you over brine the turkey it could possibly absorb too much salt and liquid. The meat would end up mushy as well since it has too much liquid.  

  4. Pat the turkey dry after rinsing off the brine. The meat had plenty ofJoe Hannips time to absorb the flavors and liquid from the brine, so don’t worry that you’d be drying out the meat. What you’re trying to do is dry off the skin and exposed meat. This will help the turkey to retain more of the rub once it’s applied. It’ll also make it a lot easier for the skin to crisp up during cooking.  

  5. Allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes before roasting. Placing a cold bird in the oven can cause a little show to the meat. The outside of the turkey will cook much faster than the inside, and could easily dry out.  

  6. Leave it alone. Start checking the turkey about ½ hour before you think it should be done. Otherwise leave the oven closed and allow it to roast. Baste if you need/want to, but opening and closing the oven door will actually hinder the cooking process more than you think.  

  7. REST! Any type of meat weather it’s beef, pork or poultry needs to rest. Resting the turkey after cooking allows the heat throughout the bird to even out. It also allows the meat to reabsorb some of the juices that would be lost by cutting into it right away.  

  8. Carve the whole turkey right away. Even if you’re not going to eat it all right away and are planning on left overs, carve it all. It’s going to be much easier to carve the bird while it is warm. You’ll get more off the turkey and that just means less waste.  
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