Turkey Cheat Sheet
- Plan on 1 to 1 1/2 pounds turkey per person.
- Buy a fresh or frozen bird: Choose from self-basting, natural, free-range, kosher or organic.
- Set an unwrapped frozen turkey on a rimmed baking sheet and thaw in the fridge; allow 24 hours per 5 pounds.
- To thaw the same day, submerge the wrapped bird in a cooler of cold water for 30 minutes per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes.
- Use 3/4 cup kosher salt for every gallon of water needed to cover the bird. Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for at least 8 hours.
- Flavor the brine with 1 to 2 cups juice, beer or spirits, if desired. You can also add herbs and spices.
- Don't brine kosher or self-basting turkeys.
- If you brined your turkey, rinse it inside and out with cold water. Remove the giblets and neck.
- Set the bird breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan and pat the skin dry with paper towels. For extra-crisp skin, refrigerate the turkey, uncovered, overnight.
- Tie the legs together with twine, tuck in the wings and let the turkey stand for 30 minutes atroom temperature before roasting.
- Plan on about 20 minutes per pound. Tent with foil if the skin gets too brown.
- Check for doneness with a meat thermometer: The thigh meat and stuffing (if used) should register 165 degrees F.
- Let rest for 30 minutes before carving.
- Slice through the skin between the leg and body on one side; pull the leg away from the body, then cut through the joint to remove the leg.
- Separate the drumstick from the thigh: Locate the joint in the middle of the leg and cut through it.
- Working on the same side, pull the wing away from the body and cut through the joint to remove. Remove the leg and wing on the other side.
- Remove each side of breast meat by slicing downward along the breastbone, following the curve of the ribs.
- Place each breast on the board skin-side up and slice against the grain.
Photographs by Anita Calero (top); Steve Giralt (5 bottom)