Putting together a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving menu isn't just about having the best recipes. It's also about having the best ingredients, including the star of the meal: the turkey. Don't just head out to the store the day before Thanksgiving and buy the first turkey you see. Instead, consider how to buy a turkey to ensure you purchase one that all your guests will absolutely love.
Simple Steps for Buying a Turkey
1. Count your guests to determine how big your turkey needs to be. When you're counting guests, count younger kids (ages 12 and under) as a half guest each. The rule of thumb is simple: you need one pound of turkey for each guest. Because a whole turkey includes bones, this will ensure there's enough meat for every guest to get a generous serving, and you'll probably have some left to use in leftover turkey recipes for the days after Thanksgiving. If you have more than 20 guests, you may want two smaller turkeys instead of one large turkey.
2. Choose whether you want a fresh turkey or a frozen turkey. You can usually find better prices on a frozen turkey and buy it well in advance to ensure you get the right size turkey before your favorite store runs out. Plan in your thawing time: 6 hours per pound in the fridge or 30 mnutes per pound in cold water. A fresh turkey may be higher quality because it hasn't been frozen, but you'll often have to pre-order yours to ensure it's waiting for you. For safety reasons, don't bring it home more than two days before Thanksgiving.
3. Consider whether you want a turkey with any special characteristics. Many people these days are buying organic or free-range turkeys because they are concerned about the conditions on turkey farms and want turkeys who have access to the outdoors or have been fed organic grains. Another option is to get a kosher turkey, which has been prepared in a way that removes all the blood and makes it acceptable for orthodox Jews who keep kosher to eat. One of the steps involves soaking the turkey in a salt brine, which brings out a great flavor in the meat.
Now that you've learned how to buy a turkey, consider using one of these simple, delicious turkey recipes to cook it.
Turkey with a Dijon Twist
What You Need
- 1 whole turkey (12 lb.), thawed
- 1/3 cup dijon mustard
HEAT oven to 325°F.
REMOVE neck and giblets from turkey cavities. Rinse turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Free legs from tucked position. (Do not cut band of skin.) Using rubber spatula or hand, loosen skin over breast, starting at body cavity opening by legs. Spread 2 Tbsp. mustard inside body cavity; spread remaining mustard on meat under skin. Use wooden toothpicks to secure skin at opening. Return legs to tucked position; turn wings back to hold neck skin in place.
PLACE turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in shallow open pan; brush with oil.
BAKE 3 hours 30 min. to 3 hours 45 min. or until done (165°F), covering breast loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Let stand 15 to 20 min. before carving. Discard toothpicks before serving.
Turkey with a Kick
What You Need
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1-1/2 cups orange juice, divided
- 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
- 1 frozen turkey (14 lb.), thawed
- 2 tsp. oil
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 4 ancho peppers, stemmed, seeded and hydrated
- 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
HEAT oven to 325ºF.
COOK bacon in large skillet until crisp. Use slotted spoon to remove bacon from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet. Add garlic, celery, raisins, thyme and 1 cup orange juice to skillet; stir. Cook 5 min.; stir in rice and bacon. Remove from heat; cool 15 min.
REMOVE neck and giblets from turkey cavities; discard. Rinse turkey; drain well. Free legs from tucked position but do not cut band of skin. Place turkey, breast-side up, on rack in roasting pan. Stuff turkey with rice mixture; brush with oil. Cover breast loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning.
BAKE turkey 3 hours 45 min. Meanwhile, blend remaining orange juice, barbecue sauce, peppers and oregano in blender.
REMOVE foil from turkey. Brush turkey with 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce mixture. Bake, uncovered, 30 min. or until turkey is done (165ºF). Let turkey stand 15 min. before carving.
MEANWHILE, pour turkey drippings into saucepan; add remaining barbecue sauce mixture. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Serve turkey with warm sauce.
Author Bio - While not working part-time as a bank teller, Jennifer fills her time with hiking, writing, time with her kids, and - of course - cooking. She looks forward to the weekends when all of her hobbies can finally come together.
Disclosure - This was a sponsored guest post. I didn't write any of the content in the article, and cannot be held responsible for anything pertaining to it.