Last week I told you to allow about 24 hours in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds of turkey to have a safely thawed bird. So let's continue from there this week.
In buying a turkey for the big day, use 1 pound for each guest. Thus a 12 to 14 pound turkey will handle 12 to 14 people.
When ready to work with the big bird, clean a kitchen sink to set it in. Remove the wrapper and take out giblets and neck which are usually frozen inside in one the two place possible. Usually the neck is in the body cavity and the giblets are in the extra neck skin above the breast. You can use these items to make stock, add to your dressing/stuffing or discard them.
Now rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. From here, follow your recipe that you are using to cook this treat. Some recipes will have you brine the turkey overnight and others will have you do seasonings the day of the big meal.
There is always the big question of do you stuff the turkey or not. I like it both ways but prefer to stuff it. Many will tell you of the dangers of stuffing a turkey. I have never encountered a problem or even heard personally of anyone getting sick because of stuffing their turkey. If you follow common sense and practice food safety, you should not have a problem. I know people also will cut their turkey into major pieces and then cook them. Even know of people who have the turkey deboned before they cook it. Go with whatever makes you feel comfortable and tastes great.
The turkey is done when it hits a temperature of 175 degrees in the thigh meat. If you are stuffing the bird, the stuffing needs to hit 165 degrees. The most used temperature for the oven is 325 degrees, but again follow your recipe. It will tell you the proper temperature for that recipe.
To cover or not to cover, that is a question. If you are roasting in an open roasting pan, you may want to loosely cover with foil to start and remove later to let it brown to desired color. If you are using a covered roasting pan or an electric roaster, probably don't need foil. But do check and add if turkey is getting too dark.
Once the turkey is done and removed from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest 15 to 20 minutes before starting to carve.
To carve the turkey, start by removing the leg and thigh in one piece. To do this, grab the leg and cut through the skin between the body of the bird and the thigh. Go all the way to the bone. Now use the tip to separate the thigh bone from the body at the joint. Next separate the leg from the thigh again by cutting through the skin at the joint between the two pieces. Leave the leg whole and slice the thigh meat from the thigh bone.
For the breast meat, stick your fork into the wing to help steady the turkey. Make a horizontal cut through the breast meat just above the wing all the way to the body frame. Now slice vertical cuts beginning at the front part of the breast. Slice down to the horizontal cut and the pieces will just fall away. Lastly, remove the wing at the joint connecting to the body. At the joints, separate the three pieces of wing and place the closet two sections to the body on your serving platter. Repeat the process with the other side.
I hope this helps you when the big day or meal arrives. I have a little different turkey recipe for you this week and a stuffing recipe that is Gluten-Free too. Enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving. "Happy Cooking" and I'm thankful for all of you that check out my food blog. Thanks again.