Uh huh. It's that time of the year when we subconsciously start stressing over the idea of cooking a bird, a big big bird. Why? Because it's so big that it could easily turn out dry and a dry turkey is the last thing we want as the centrepiece of our Thanksgiving dinner.
We've been there and have figured out some ways to avoid the disappointment of dry turkey meat. Here are 6 useful tips to make sure your turkey is deliciously juicy and tender this year and every year after.
1. Gently Separate the Skin
Lifting the skin slightly from the meat goes a long way. Doing this to a fresh or completeIy thawed turkey will help with dry brining and buttering later on, and roasting a crispy, golden skin.
2. Dry Brining
Gone are the days when the only way to brine a turkey is to submerge it in saltwater. It requires a large enough container to fit in a turkey comfortably, and for the most part, the drippings can turn out too salty.
Dry brining is much easier, neater, and offers better results. Rub a blend of kosher salt, thyme, rosemary and your favourite herbs onto the skin, cavity and between the skin and the meat. Ideally, you can let it sit in the fridge for 2-3 days before roasting to have the moisture locked in.
3. Lots of Butter
Slather a layer of herb butter (chopped sage, thyme and rosemary) on and under the skin to create the irresistible juiciness.
4. Invest in a good meat thermometer
Because no one ever wants to realize the inside is still undercooked when it's time to carve and serve. Poke a cooking thermometer into the thickest part (the thigh) of the turkey and let it face outside so you can precisely monitor the temperature inside the turkey. Make sure the thermometer doesn't touch any bones or the baking dish. Remove the turkey from the oven once it reaches 74°C or 165°F.
5. Leave space in the cavity
This might sound counter-intuitive as we're always so tempted to fill the cavity to the brim with stuffings or aromatics. It actually helps with air & heat circulation when we leave space in there. Only stuff in 1 big onion, sliced in halves. Plus, a few chunks of tomatoes and apples and your favourite herbs.
6. 35 mins per kg
That's approximately 16-18 mins per pound to avoid undercooked or overcooked meat. This is an excellent rule of thumb for planning out your day and workflow accordingly. However, we still recommend using a meat thermometer to most accurately monitor the doneness of the turkey.
7. Rest. Rest. Rest.
Resting is as important as roasting to get a juicy and tender turkey. This period allows the meat to absorb the juices and flavours (and allows you to get the gravy and everything else ready). Rest for at least 45 mins to 2 hours, depending on your schedule. Rest uncovered to avoid soggy skin.