With the fourth Thursday in November quickly approaching, it's time to browse the meat market for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. But how exactly do you achieve the perfection level you're looking for?
If you have questions about how to achieve the perfect turkey, look no further than this guide. The following tips and tricks will ensure you and your loved ones enjoy a juicy, flavorful turkey this holiday season.
Planning and Preparation
Before you start cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, it's essential to plan and prepare accordingly. The last thing anyone wants is to run out of delicious food on Thanksgiving day.
1.5 Pounds of Turkey Per Guest
Start by assessing the number of guests you'll be inviting. It's best to plan for about 1.5 pounds of turkey per guest. You can safely reduce this number to half a pound when accounting for any children in attendance.
Now that you know the weight you need, you can select the right size for your gathering. It's never a bad idea to have more than you need. Sometimes, leftovers are the most delicious part of Thanksgiving dinner.
If you get a frozen turkey from our online meat market, you should plan for thawing time before dinner. For every five pounds of turkey you have, plan for 24 hours of thawing time. Thawing it too quickly can sacrifice the turkey's texture, so prepare for your dinner a few days before.
Brining Your Turkey
Brining is the best way to ensure you have a delicious, juicy turkey on Thanksgiving night. This means you add a solution of salt and water to your turkey and allow it to soak into the meat.
A good rule of thumb is to use a three-quarter cup of salt for every gallon of water you need to brine your turkey—plan to brine your turkey in your refrigerator for at least eight hours.
Don't skip this step.
Brining turkey keeps it tender and moist throughout every step of the cooking process. Without brine, you're in for a night of dry, tough turkey — the last thing you want on one of the biggest food days of the year.
Need a quick 'how-to'? Check out our recipe for making a simple brine.
Ideal Turkey Cooking Practices
When it comes to actually cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, there are a few tips and tricks you should know about. For one thing, ensuring you cook turkey at the right temperature and for the right amount of time is essential.
Seasoning, Oil, and Butter
Before you start cooking your turkey, rub it with plenty of spices, herbs, and oil or butter. As the turkey cooks, these flavors will soak into the meat, giving it those famous savory notes everyone loves.
Stuffing Your Turkey
If you cook the turkey with stuffing inside, add it before cooking. Stuffing your turkey too early can increase your guests' risk of contracting food poisoning. This risk is because more bacteria can soak the stuffing overnight as it brines.
Cooking Turkey in the Oven
Turkey should cook in the oven for about 20 minutes per pound. Thus, if you have a 10-pound turkey, it should cook for three hours and 20 minutes.
Check the turkey's internal temperature before removing it from the oven. Use a high-quality meat thermometer to ensure your reading is accurate. Turkey (and the stuffing inside) should register at 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safety and optimal texture. Everything should read 165 degrees to keep the food safe (and delicious).
Allow Your Turkey to Cool Before Carving
It's a mistake to carve into your turkey right after it's finished cooking. The turkey needs time to cool down and soak up the remaining flavors left over from cooking. Let your turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving and serving it.
Buy Meat Online or In-Store From Miesfeld's Meat Market
Want to get the highest-quality turkey for your Thanksgiving celebration? We invite you to stop by in person or give us a call to get yours before the holiday celebration!