When I started making Thanksgiving dinner 17 years ago, I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to cook a turkey. Sure I “helped” make dinner with my parents and my sister, but, making everything solo was a mystery.
My first couple holidays were pretty rocky, though my family was smart enough not to complain or tease too much. They toughed it out through lumpy potatoes, runny gravy, half cooked stuffing and of course, the worst, the dry flavorless turkey!
So if you are new to the whole turkey cooking thing or need a better way to a moist full of flavor turkey, let me clue you in to some tricks to save your holiday! This is how I cook a perfect turkey every time.
Now here is the deal, everyone has their thing, the trick they say works…well I have tried most of them. I guess my goal every year is to have someone says “Ok, this was the best one yet!”
Here are my favorite tricks to the best turkey ever.
Trick number 1. Brine: Using a brine is a great way to add flavor and moisture to your turkey and it also shaves a little of the cooking time off. I have used several different ones but my favorite is Martha Stewart’s recipe. The only changes I have made is I don’t use quite as much water. I make this either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I also buy a brining bag, which is basically a really thick plastic zip lock that will hold a turkey. One other tip is to have someone help you move the turkey…it is really heavy with all the liquid and it is a total mess when the bag opens up on you and you have a river of brine flowing across your clean kitchen floor! http://www.marthastewart.com/343940/turkey-brine
Note: I buy all my spices for the brine from Penzey’s. Their spices are super fresh and if you can’t make it to their store, you can order from their catalog or online https://www.penzeys.com/
Trick number 2. BACON! yes, bacon is an amazing and beautiful thing. It gives a crusty outside to your turkey while sealing in the moisture. I only used this one year, it was impressive visually and made interesting gravy. It added a hint of smoke and maybe a little sweetness. Here is the thing, it takes a lot of bacon to cover a turkey. I bought a 3 lb. package from Gordon Food Service and used every bit of it. If you would like to give this method a try, check out this video, it shows the basic method. Of course, I also wrapped the legs and covered every inch of mine, otherwise, whats the point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjGqRXn7KPc
Trick number 3. Parchment paper dome, Making a dome with parchment paper is a great way to keep the moisture in and even better, you don’t have to baste your turkey! You do this by taking long strips of parchment paper and line your pan. (make them long enough to cover the bottom of the pan and wrap completely around your turkey and over the top, then add 6-8 inches) After you place the turkey in the paper, pull all the sides straight up over the center of the turkey. Smooth them together and roll them down. It should look something like the picture below. This doesn’t have to be perfect, it will hold the steam in and the turkey will “self baste”. The hardest thing is to keep from opening the bag to check on it. Don’t worry, your turkey is in there, and if your oven is on, it’s cooking.
I usually remove the paper for the last 30 minutes, just because I like to look at the beautiful turkey, and I want to make sure it’s still in there… wink.
I hope these little tricks will help relieve some of the stress of the holidays. You can try one trick or any combination of the three. My favorite is a combo of 1 and 3. The holidays are for sharing with you friends and family so my final tip for you today is this: if any of your guests ask to bring a dish or offer to help, never turn them down. Even though I am a bit of a control freak it makes dinner more interesting and everyone can be proud of the amazing meal they helped bring to the table!
If you liked these ideas subscribe to our blog @ www.soshalclub.com, visit us on Facebook and check us out on Instagram @soshalclub