Turkey Taboos: What NOT to Do This Thanksgiving

With these words of wisdom in your back pocket, your beloved bird will taste better than ever this Thanksgiving.

D'Artagnan Food products

Photo by: Ted Axelrod ©2010 TedAxelrod

Ted Axelrod, 2010 TedAxelrod

When it comes to preparing the Thanksgiving bird, everyone has an opinion. We all have our favorite turkey, whether it’s Aunt Sally’s or Alton Brown’s 5-star fan favorite. There are some words of wisdom, though, that apply no matter what turkey recipe you choose. Chef Ariane Daguin, cofounder of D’Artagnan, a leading gourmet food purveyor, shared her essential tips for what NOT to do when it comes to the turkey. With these in your back pocket, your beloved bird will taste better than ever.

1. Keep It Fresh: Don’t buy a frozen turkey. A fresh bird will always have flesh that is more moist and tender.

2. Turkey Inferno: Don’t preheat your oven to a temperature lower than 350 degrees F or the turkey’s skin won’t lock in enough juices to ensure a moist bird.

3. The Rinse Cycle: Don’t cook your brined turkey before rinsing the meat.  Without a good rinse, excess surface salt and any herbs or sugars that could potentially burn will be left on the skin.

4. Winging It: Don’t leave the bird’s tips uncovered while grilling. If you don’t cover the wing tips and the tips of the drumsticks with foil, you will end up with charring.

5. Skin Is In: Don’t pierce the turkey’s skin when putting fat (butter, duck fat, etc.) between the flesh and the skin; but do consider this method, as it imparts even more flavor to your bird.

6. The Stuffing of Dreams: Don’t stuff a bird ahead of time or you will increase the chances of promoting the production of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Better yet, cook your stuffing in a separate casserole.

7. Turkey R&R: Don’t carve the bird directly after cooking. Let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes to redistribute the juices before you carve.

8. Pecking Order: Don’t carve the white meat before the dark meat. The dark meat (legs and thighs) should always be carved before the white meat (turkey breast), since the latter dries out faster.

9. The Rest Is Just Gravy: Don’t throw raw flour into pan juices to make gravy. Lighter and more flavorful methods include blending the chunks of carrots, turnips and other winter vegetables that have roasted beneath the turkey and adding the puree to the gravy, or whipping generous dollops of truffle butter into the pan juices for a taste of luxury.

10. Taste Test: Don’t serve your gravy without tasting it first. Always make sure to sample gravy to adjust the seasoning.

Check out dozens of top turkey recipes and more tips from Food Network.

Image courtesy of D’Artagnan
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