Here are few tips from chef and author of Southern cookbook, Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent, to help make your Thanksgiving turkey your BEST yet!
Prerequisites for Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
Number One: The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.
You might want to test your oven before the big day by simply preheating it to 250° and testing it with a cooking thermometer. Start your turkey out uncovered in a 425*F oven for 30 minutes. Cover the breast with aluminum foil and drop the temperature down to 325*F for the remainder of the cooking time. This is guarantees a turkey that is crisp outside and juicy inside.
Number Two: Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed and cleaned. The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and food borne illness. So place your frozen bird in the refrigerator at least 2 days before the big day.
Number Three: Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey! Don’t laugh! People have done this, so check both the top AND the bottom of your turkey for them. There is nothing quite as anti-climactic is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and having the bag of giblets pop out.
Number Four: Know the actual weight of the turkey. Knowing this number guarantees that you cook your turkey the right amount of time and end up with a turkey that’s golden brown, juicy, and delicious. It also helps plan the timing of your side dishes as well. A good rule of thumb to figure out when to start cooking your Thanksgiving turkey is to back track from the time you want to have it on the table.
Number Five: Add your dressing last. Stuff your turkey with dressing once the turkey is totally done and has an internal cooking temperature of 165*F. NEVER stuff a raw turkey-the dressing will absorb the turkey’s uncooked blood and juices and can lead to food borne illness.