Q: This is my first year cooking a turkey. Any tips?
A: First bear in mind that a turkey is just a big chicken. If you’ve roasted a chicken—or even if you haven’t—there’s no need to be intimidated by the turkey. Three simple tips will guarantee success every time.
1. Pick the right bird: The first important decision happens when you purchase your turkey. For best flavor and texture, opt for a fresh (never-frozen) turkey. Organic is best; mass-produced and frozen birds are often “marinated” or injected with saline solution. You can often order from food emporiums, like Whole Foods, or from local farmers.
2. Cook to the perfect temp: Take all the guesswork out of the cooking process and invest in an inexpensive probe thermometer. Insert the probe into the meaty part of one thigh, and set the monitor to sound at 165˚F. The turkey is now done, so pull it from the oven.
3. Let it rest: Allow the turkey to stand for half an hour at room temperature while you ready all the sides and trimmings. Do not carve the turkey before it has rested, so the juices will redistribute and remain in the meat—if you carve too soon, the precious juices will be lost on your cutting board, leaving one dry turkey.
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