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How to cook and carve a Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey

Most people often get so much stressed over their Thanksgiving Turkey as it is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. And you do not want to disappoint your guests. After reading this article I believe all your insecurities or fears will go away and you will be able to make a beautiful and perfect Thanksgiving Turkey. This method is completely easy and has no complications. There is no involvement in cooking it upside down, basting or bringing the turkey, or anything weird. The most basic part of roasting a great Thanksgiving Turkey is not to cook it too much because that makes the meat completely dry. Plan for the right timing if you want to crave a juicy turkey at the Thanksgiving ceremony. Thanksgiving Turkey is the most important meal of Thanksgiving Dinner. In this article, you will find out How to cook and carve a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Easy and Unique Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

The best Thanksgiving Turkey recipe contains juiciness and a lot of flavors as you expected for the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey, with no stress! I am pretty much sure this recipe is not just the easiest way of cook a Thanksgiving turkey also produces a super juicy, ravishing, and perfectly cooked turkey.

  • Size of Turkey: In terms of how big of a turkey you need to buy, the general rule is for each person one pound of Turkey or a pound and a half Turkey if you want leftovers. However, 12 to 16 pounds of Turkey is enough for this method.
  • Garlic and Onion: The garlic will be used for rubbing the outside area of the turkey and on the inside of it onion will be placed. Here these two together will soak the meat and make the skin savory flavor.
  • Butter: A good amount of butter will make the turkey juicy. There will be no requirement for brine and it’s time-saving.
  • Lemon: On the inside of the turkey the lemon wedges will be added which will help the meat to keep it moist and brings a sparkle of freshness.
  • Herbs: Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme is the perfect combination of different herbs. Although these can be used as dried the fresh ones have more flavorsome.
  • Salt and Pepper: Use these on a certain amount and based on our taste level.
  • Vegetables: Although vegetables are not required for roasting. But I add carrots, onion, and celery under the turkey to make it more flavorable.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

The most common mistake people usually do is to buy a frozen turkey day before the Thanksgiving. Do not do that and keep in mind that a turkey that big takes a while for defrosting in the refrigerator. For every five pounds of turkey, it usually takes 24 hours to thaw it properly. My suggestion will be to buy the turkey minimum a week ahead of the big day. Then let the turkey defrost in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days to thaw before Thanksgiving. Defrost your turkey on a plate or tray to prevent liquid from going everywhere in your refrigerator.

Do not wash the turkey

By washing the turkey you will just make your kitchen and sink contaminate. At first, separate it from the packing and dry the turkey by using some kitchen paper. Then arrange the turkey for the oven and remember one thing that any bacteria on it will be get killed inside the oven when it’s roasting.

Do not cook stuffing inside a turkey

If you put a lot of stuffing in the cavity of a turkey, it will take a lot of time to cook and by that time the turkey will be overcooked. It’s best to cook both of them separately for a perfectly balanced cooked turkey and stuffing. So, cook the stuffing in the casserole dish rather. Afterward fill up the cavity of it with various things such as herbs, celery, carrots, onion, salt, and pepper which will give it moisture and flavor.

Required Equipment

There is 3 basic kitchen product that you require to equip for roasting the turkey which are:

  1. Thermometer: You can use any type of thermometer. I usually use the instant-read thermometer but the basic meat thermometer or a probe thermometer can be used.
    Basic kitchen product
    Google image
  2. Roasting Tray: Cheapie disposable foil roasting tray, mid-priced one, or an expensive one any of these works just fine.
  3. A Sharp Knife: A necessary item among kitchen elements. I also have a fork set and carving knife.

How to prepare a Thanksgiving Turkey

Let’s prepare the Thanksgiving turkey before cooking it. While preparing the turkey preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and we’re not gonna start the oven hot and reduce the temperature. Follow the steps below.

Thaw and separate the neck and giblet

The first thing you are gonna do is let rest the thawed turkey at normal temperature for about 1 hour. Then remove the packet of giblets that you will most often find in the neck cavity of the turkey. Then if there is any excess skin around this area you can trim that off. At the other end, in the big body cavity, you will find the neck. So, remove that and you can then trim off the tail. You can discard them or, save them for gravy it’s up to you.

Stuff Turkey

With a great amount of pepper and salt season inside of the turkey. Then place the quartered lemon wedges and onion inside the cavity. Now inside of the turkey place a few branches of fresh herbs like sage, thyme, and rosemary. The herbs besides the lemon and onion make the meat moisture and flavor.

Herb butter

To make herb butter you will need 1 TBS of chopped thyme and rosemary. Also, peel and mince 6 to 7 garlic cloves. Then add all these to ¾ cup of softened room temperature butter. At the end of the herb butter add a little salt and pepper. After all these ingredients are in the mixing pot, mash them all by using a fork or spoon and check if it’s well combined.

Spread Herb butter

For adding the herb butter you need to loosen the outside skin of the turkey and do it gently by sliding your fingers under the skin. Also, try to avoid kitchen tools like knives, spatulas, etc because those will puncture or tear the skin. Here your hands are the best kitchen tools around. Meanwhile, keep adding herb butter until you have loosened the skin entirely along with the peak of the breast. Now, from the bowl take around 1/3 of herb butter and rub-down the skin. After applying it underneath the skin now smooth it out by using your top fingers also pull the skin to flat and nice. Later rub all the remaining herb butter on the skin of the turkey as well as the thighs, wings, and legs.

Placing vegetables and Wing tucking

No matter which roasting pan you are using just place the chopped vegetables in the pan and set the turkey on the rack of the roasting pan. However, you can just set the turkey on top of vegetables without a rack. Now, underneath the turkey tuck the wings and do not truss the legs. Tucking helps the turkey to sit flatter and prevent it from burning.

Thanksgiving Turkey
Google image

How to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

Are you ready for cooking the Thanksgiving turkey? If this is your first time, don’t get anxious just think of it as roasting a large-sized chicken. The apply of ideas and methods will be the same. Let’s cook it. Place the prepared turkey in your oven and if you are using a meat or probe thermometer, place the thermometer into the meaty part of the turkey such as thigh or breast. If you are using an instant-read thermometer when the temperature is about 70% done began to check the turkey. For every pound roast the turkey for about 15 minutes, for me, it takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes or till the internal temperature goes up to 158 °F to 160°F. Keep in mind that even the turkey is removed from the oven it will still continue to cook. Later after it’s rested the temperature will rise to 165°F when it will be perfectly done. But until 165°F if you leave it there that’s when the turkey might turn out to dry meat. If you follow all these steps you will have a juicy, perfectly golden, mass flavorful, and mouth-watering tasty roasted Thanksgiving turkey.

Let the turkey rest

After removing the turkey from the oven the most important thing at this stage is to let the turkey rest for 30 minutes at the minimum. This allows the meat to completely cook and inside the meat the juices redistributed.

How to carve a Thanksgiving Turkey

After resting your successfully roasted Thanksgiving turkey the only thing that is left now is carving it to serve and present in front of your guests. Carving is not just only show it off for the centerpiece meal but to make sure everyone gets both meat and skin with every bite. You will need a big cutting board and a sharp knife. So, don’t be frighten it is really easy just follow the steps below.

Carving a Thanksgiving Turkey
Google image

Slice Legs and Thighs

In the first cut, make it throughout the skin between the breast and the leg to remove the thigh and leg from the body. Also till you hit the joint keep slicing down the meat. Then pull out on the leg, spread it on the board flatly, and from underneath of the joint push it up. Then use your knife to slice throughout the joint when you spot it and separate the thigh and leg. Similarly, on the other side repeat this.

Remove the Breast

For removing the breast, slice it down by using long strokes on one side of the bone of the breast. When your knife cut to the bottom part then gently drag the breast out by using your thumb. You can also slice it horizontally by cutting it bottom part of the breast from the outside to separate it. Then on the other side repeat this and put these aside.

Remove both Wings

To remove both wings softly twist them apart from the body and cut throughout the joint. Then put these aside also.

Remove Drumstick and Bone from Thigh

After removing all the meat from the turkey, remove the drum stick from the thigh. Then remove the bone from the thigh by using a sharp knife to cut around the thighbone to keep the dark meat as much as possible. Once you have got thigh meat, cut it into strips and add it to the platter.

How to carve a turkey breast

Slice the breast meat into thin strips just cut them against the grain. Here a sharp knife is very useful, as it contains a small bit of skin on every piece. Once both of the breast meat is sliced, include them on your serving platter.

Plating the Carved Thanksgiving Turkey

You can arrange it in various ways. It basically depends on your serving platter size and if you have any extra garnishes such as herbs, cranberries, apples, or lemons. So, arrange it any way you want to. I always try to ensure that as many as golden pieces like the drumsticks and breasts take center stages. As for the wings, slice it throughout the skin and bend the wings backward for removing the drumette from the wingette. As there is no meat on the wingtip I usually remove it. However, it’s important for gravies and stocks. So, around the thigh meat, I put on those wing pieces to the serving platter and place the drumsticks later, which are like the centerpiece item on top. Then fill the gaps with garnishes. Thus serve it right away with sauces, salads, and other goodies you make.

Platting the Thanksgiving Turkey
Google image

I hope that you guys enjoyed this tasty turkey recipe. As Thanksgiving is the day of gratitude I am very thankful that you read this food blog. And I hope you have a very happy, fun-filled, delicious Thanksgiving.

Please do share your advice, stories, and recipe suggestions in the comments box! Whether you cooking a turkey for the first time or you just decided to try this method, I would love to hear from you. Write your experience in the comment below and rate this recipe.

FAQ

How big of a turkey you should buy?

It depends on how many people are going to eat. Here the rule is for each person 1 pound or 1 and a half pounds. In that way you will get some leftovers, so I suggest:

  • Eight people a 10 to 14-pound turkey.
  • Twelve people a 14 to 18-pound turkey.
  • Sixteen people an 18 to 22-pound turkey.

If there are less than 8 people a small turkey will be enough. Also, if more than 16 people gather on this case buying 2 turkeys will be more preferable rather than a monster-sized one.

How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Thanksgiving Turkey?

For every 5 pounds, it takes a day (24 hours) to thaw a turkey. If you are thawing it in the fridge it’s gonna take 2 to 4 days. However, you can also thaw it faster by bathing it with cold water. Until the turkey is thawed keep changing the cold water every 30 minutes for each pound.

How long to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey?

It usually depends on how big of a turkey you are going to cook or if it’s stuffed inside. For every pound, it takes precisely 15 minutes. Set 160F in the oven to cook it. A small guideline:

  • 10 to 14 pounds turkey it takes 2 and half hour to 3 and a half hour
  • 14 to 18 pounds turkey it takes 3 and half hour to 4 and a half hour
  • 18 to 22 pounds turkey it takes 4 and half hour to 5 and a half hour

Check every hour after 75% of the turkey is cooked.

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