I wait all year for Thanksgiving. There is nothing like that moist meat with gravy and whipped potatoes and, of course, the pie. Then, if I’m lucky, I get to eat it for three more days as leftovers. Today, I want to share some ideas that can help a novice or longtime cook create a wonderful meal.
Thanksgiving is a day to appreciate family and friends, to eat, watch football and then eat some more. According to Calorie Control Council, the average caloric intake for this day (not counting breakfast calories) is more than 4,500, and the average fat intake is 229 grams (about 15 tablespoons of fat). This amounts to two to three times the daily caloric recommendation and three to four times the fat intake.
If you start off with a bird that is about 14 pounds, you will have about 8 pounds of lean meat. About half is lost to bones and so forth. Choose a turkey with the least amount of additives possible. Moistness and tenderness will be achieved by you and your oven.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture warns that the majority of birds already are carrying either salmonella or campylo bacteria. The thawing process is critical for a safe meal. Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator (bottom shelf) for four to five days or in cool running water for five to six hours. You also can cook it from a partially thawed state.
Once you have thawed the bird, wipe it down with a damp towel. It is not advisable to rinse it in the sink as splash droplets can spread bacteria.
Prepare your stuffing by whatever recipe you prefer. By making your stuffing as a side dish, you can adequately cook it without overcooking the turkey.
Add 1 cup of liquid to the turkey roasting pan and roast for the time advised based on the size. I roast my turkey with the breast down. This allows the juices to drip into the white muscle effectively. To brown the skin to the crisp level, flip the bird for the last 40 minutes.
An instant-read thermometer will be useful. When you think the meat is cooked, insert the instant-read thermometer into the meaty portion of the thigh close to the body. After 15 seconds, the thermometer should read 165 degrees. You can’t depend on the factory-inserted temperature probe because they are typically set for 185 degrees, which can overcook your bird.
When the meat reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the oven and loosely cover with a foil tent for 20 minutes. This allows the meat to absorb the moisture and finish cooking. This rest period is an essential part of the cooking process.
Now, it is time to carve this beauty. After removing the thighs and wings, you can carve the breast meat to make a difference in appearance and moistness. This year, instead of slicing the breast parallel to the breast bone, try removing the breast muscle whole and then making perpendicular cuts. The round slices retain their form and moisture and make for a more pleasing presentation than strings of meat.
Enjoy and be sure to put the leftovers away within two hours – the final step for a safe, moist meat.
email@example.com or 382-6461. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.