CHICAGO — A lot goes into properly prepping, cooking and carving a turkey for friends and family on Thanksgiving.
Whether you're hosting for the first time or are a Turkey Day veteran, here are some expert tips from the folks at Fresh Marketplace in Bucktown to make sure it turns out great:
- Don't forget to thaw: If your Tom is frozen, you better get him in the fridge up to three days before Thanksgiving, depending on the size. If you don’t want to serve frozen turkey, get going!
- Get those innards out: Once it’s thawed, reach inside the turkey's cavity and pull out the gizzard and other innards that are typically inside a plastic bag.
- Butter it up: Really lather the turkey up with butter to make it turn a nice brown color as it cooks.
- Stuff it for flavor and moisture: Roughly cut up some apples, garlic and onion, and add them to the cavity. These will add moisture and flavor to the meat as it cooks.
- Cover up: Cover some parts of the turkey, like the drumsticks, with foil before cooking. This can help prevent them from drying out.
- Raise the heat: Start your oven at 350 degrees, but raise the temperature higher to get it brown at the end.
- Timing: Cook it 20 minutes per pound for a frozen bird, 18 minutes per pound for a fresh one.
- Use a meat thermometer: Keep an eye on your turkey's temperature, and always get it above 165 degrees.
- Let it sit: After taking it out of the oven, let the turkey sit for 20 minutes so it can re-absorb the juices.
- Cut away: When carving, knock off the legs first and then go for the breast, which you can cut cross-wise to get thicker cuts of meat.