Everything You Need to Know About Thanksgiving Turkey
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What to Buy:
- Plan on 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person (you’ll still have leftovers!).
- If you’re brining, don’t get a self-basting or kosher turkey—these birds are presalted.
- Consider roasting two smaller birds for a big crowd; they’ll cook faster and more evenly.
How to Brine:
- For a 12-pound bird, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar and 2/3 cup kosher salt in 1 gallon warm water; cool. Place the turkey in a large stockpot and pour the brine over it (add cold water to fully submerge, if necessary). Refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.
- A dry brine has a similar effect but it takes up less space in your fridge: Rub a 12-pound turkey with a mix of 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and some chopped herbs. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.
- After brining, rinse the bird inside and out with cold water, then pat dry before roasting.
How to Thaw:
- Start thawing a frozen turkey early: Set the wrapped bird on a rimmed baking sheet and thaw in the fridge—you’ll need 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds.
- To thaw the same day, submerge the wrapped bird in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes; this will take 2 to 3 hours for every 5 pounds.
How to Roast:
- Pat the bird dry and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before roasting.
- Plan on about 15 minutes roasting time per pound in a 350 degrees F oven. The thigh meat should register 160 degrees F to 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer. (If you’re stuffing your turkey, the stuffing should reach 165 degrees F.)
- Let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.
How to Carve:
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Separate the drumstick from the thigh: Locate the joint in the middle of the leg and cut through it.
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: Remove the breast meat by slicing downward along the breastbone, following the curve of the ribs on each side.
Step 5: Place each breast on the board skin-side up and slice.