Feed Your Soul

Let's Talk Turkey - Part One

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, November 07, 2016

Whether it’s your first time to host Thanksgiving dinner or you’re an old pro, you have questions that need answering. This collection of tips will help you choose the best bird and offer some unorthodox cooking methods.

How much turkey should I buy?

            Depends on how many people you’re hosting and how much turkey you want for leftovers. But, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to estimate 1 1/2 pounds per person, especially if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftover. If you don’t want leftovers, 3/4 pound of whole turkey per person is sufficient. If you plan to have a boneless turkey roast, plan on at least 1/3 pound per person. If you plan to have a bone-in turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person.

What’s the best way to host Thanksgiving for a crowd?

            Consider roasting two smaller turkeys instead of one large one. Smaller turkeys will cook more quickly and evenly and fit better in your fridge or roasting pan. Additionally, cooking smaller turkeys affords you the opportunity to experiment with two different types of preparations.

To brine or not to brine?

            Brining is a great option for extra flavor and moist meat. Simply combine 5-1/2 ounces kosher salt, ¼ cup sugar and 2 quarts cool water into a pot over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then remove from the heat, add 2 more quarts of water and chill in your refrigerator.

Remove turkey innards and reserve for gravy if preferred. Next rinse turkey well and double up two turkey-sized oven bags. Roll down the edges of the bag to allow the bag to stay open. Place bags in your roasting pan and then put the turkey in, breast side down inside the inner bag. Pour brine over the turkey. And then gather the inner bag around the bird so the brine covers most of the turkey. Secure the bag with a twist tie and do the same with the outer bag. Refrigerate turkey (in the roasting pan) for 12 to 18 hours.

To stuff or not to stuff?

            If you choose to stuff your turkey, you should know it will take longer to roast and there’s a greater risk the bird won’t cook evenly. This is why many cooks bake their stuffing in a separate baking dish. Baking your stuffing in a separate baking dish allows you to get that nice crispy top. If you decide to stuff your turkey, do this loosely to allow the stuffing room to expand.

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