The 12-step Recipe for Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey
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Preparing a Thanksgiving feast for your family and guests is more work than most people realize. From peeling mountains of potatoes, onions, and carrots to making homemade pie crust from scratch, the amount of prep time and effort required can be overwhelming. That’s why many people hire caterers to prepare their Thanksgiving meal or opt to order takeout instead. However, investing in a professional chef isn’t a realistic option for everyone. If you prefer home-cooked food (or want to impress potential future in-laws) but are feeling overwhelmed by all the preparations involved in cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal, we have some tips that will make it much easier for you.
1. Choose your turkey wisely
You want to create a delicious turkey breast and thigh, one that’s infused with flavour from the aromatics you roast. To do that, you need to select a turkey with the right amount of fat. You don’t want a turkey that is too fatty as that will cause your breast to become overly oily, but you also don’t want one that is too lean and would result in a dry breast. A Grade A, all-natural, no-added-water turkey that’s been seasoned with spices and herbs is the best choice. A Grade B turkey can also be used, but only if you remove the skin and fat. A wild turkey is great if you want to really impress, but it’s not always easy to find. If you insist on using a wild turkey, you must be aware that they have a different fat ratio than traditional domesticated turkeys, which means the breast meat won’t be as juicy and tender.
2. Plan and shop ahead
Deciding to prepare a classic Thanksgiving meal is a wonderful idea, but you’ll want to plan ahead to make sure you’re adequately prepared. If you’re new to this kind of cooking, it’s best to start with a small meal to get your feet wet and master some of the techniques you’ll need to employ. The first thing you’ll want to do is create a shopping list. Make a list of everything you’ll need, even if you think you might already have the ingredients at home. Cooking a big meal is a stressful process, and you don’t want to be rushing around to pick up things you forgot to buy. It’s also important to prepare your space. Make sure you have plenty of counter space and have cleared out your fridge. If you have limited space in your kitchen, you may also want to clear out your dining room or living room to give yourself as much space as possible.
3. Make the broth and gravy base
Roast some vegetables with a sprig of thyme, some sage, and garlic. Let the vegetables cool down and then puree them in a blender. Next, use the vegetables as a base for your gravy by combining it with some chicken stock or water. A broth-and-vegetable base will make the perfect turkey broth for your gravy. It’s important to save this liquid and pour it into a separate container when you’re done. You can freeze it or use it to make vegetable stock for future meals.
4. Roast the aromatics
Roast your vegetables and herbs to infuse them with flavour. You can use any vegetables you like, but it’s a good idea to use potatoes, carrots and onions because they’ll be used in other parts of the meal. Another thing you can do is brine the turkey. Make a brine by dissolving 2 cups of salt in 1 gallon of water. Place your turkey in a large container, and pour the brine over the turkey. The turkey should be completely submerged in the brine.
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5. Braise your veggies
Bed your roasting pan with root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, cut into large chunks. Add your roasted aromatics and sautéed brussels sprouts. Put your turkey on top, cover with foil, and roast at 350°F for 2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Braising vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, or sweet potatoes, are the perfect addition to a classic Thanksgiving meal. This method, also known as “oven-braising”, is done in the same way as roasting, but you add a little bit of water or broth to the pan to create a moist environment for the vegetables to cook in.
6. Roast the turkey
The old saying, “let the bird cook,” applies here. Do not be tempted to open the oven and check on your turkey too often. This will only dry out the meat and cause your bird to cook unevenly. Once your turkey is in the oven, it’s best to just let it cook. The one thing you might want to check on is the temperature. You can use a meat thermometer or an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature inside the turkey is rising. Once the temperature reads 165°F, your turkey is done.
7. Finish with a fry-up
Toast a few slices of bread and fry up some chopped bacon. Add a little bit of oil to a pan and fry the bacon until crispy. Once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and drain the grease. Add the bacon to the sliced toast, and add a sliced fried egg on top. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.
8. Celebrate with Leftover Soup
Once you’ve enjoyed your big meal, it’s time to start thinking about leftover soup! Luckily, leftover turkey makes a delicious base for any kind of soup. You can make a classic turkey and vegetable soup or try something new, like a turkey and potato tortilla soup. For a traditional turkey and vegetable soup, you’ll need to start with a leftover turkey carcass. Some people like to roast the turkey bones for a better flavour, but it’s not necessary if you’re in a rush. Once you have your bones, add them to a large pot with carrots, celery, onion, and a few bay leaves.
Turkey is a dish that is traditionally served at Thanksgiving. However, you can also serve it with other meals throughout the year, as well as use it in various recipes. Preparing a Thanksgiving meal can be a stressful process, and a lot of people like to outsource the cooking to a professional caterer. However, if you prefer to cook your own food, we have some tips that will make it much easier for you.