The turkey is the star of your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner– the holidays just would not be the same without him. So why is it that finding the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe for a crisp, moist, golden bird is so difficult? Unless you come from a family of extraordinary cooks, you can probably count the number of perfectly prepared turkeys you've eaten on one hand (for those with counting difficulties, that's a max of five).
A Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey with soggy skin, dry breast meat, and tough drumsticks is generally par for the course. You need to cover the darned thing with gravy to get it to taste at all interesting (and you know you're in trouble when the breast meat sucks up the gravy like dry sawdust!).
If any of this sounds familiar, well … welcome to the world of the turkey impaired! It may not be the most desirable place, but it sure is not lonely. Want a passport to the land of the perfect Thanksgiving turkey? I can help you get approved, stamped, and in the door. (Okay, enough with the travel analogies.) Just read on for some great tips on choosing and preparing the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey recipe.
Brine 'em. Brining a turkey is a pain in the butt. It just is. And the nasty raw-turkey water sloshing across your arms is not particularly pleasant, either. But boy does it make a difference. So if you want a knock-out roasted turkey this year, choose one that requires you to brine the turkey. A good turkey brine recipe results in a juicy, flavorful turkey– you simply can not get the same results without it. Heck, Christmas and Thanksgiving come only once a year. It's worth a little extra effort.
Think outside the oven. Have you been making the same roasted Thanksgiving turkey for about a hundred years? It may be time for a change of method. There are a lots of ways to cook a turkey that do not require you to use your oven at all. Consider deep-frying your turkey, grilling it, or smoking it. There are lots of methods out there that result in a moister and more deeply flavored bird than you can ever get with the oven. As a bonus, these methods are all done outside, freeing up you oven for those ever-important side dishes.
Keep the bird on a tight schedule. You've got to run a tight ship on Thanksgiving and Christmas if you want dinner to come out perfect. Dry, overcooked turkeys are often the result of poor timing. The best way to avoid this is to make up a schedule and stick to it. Certain side dishes are begin at certain times. The turkey goes in right on schedule. The table is set right when it should be. Running a tight ship will ensure that your turkey comes out ship-shape.