10 Must Know Turkey Tips from the Chefs

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it's just about time to start planning that delicious feast. Here are 10 "must-knows" and Chef secrets for preparing the turkey. 

1. For every 4 lbs the turkey weighs, allow 1 hour of cooking time. Ex: A 16 lb. turkey needs at least 4 hours of cooking time.
2. If you're not sure about the cooking time, use a meat thermometer. Take the temp. of the breast and thighs (don't touch the bones) the temperature should reach 165º for at least 15 seconds.
3. Say the turkey breast is fully cooked but the thighs haven't reached doneness- put a piece of foil over the breast of the bird and continue to roast on low.  
4. You've started carving and the bird is dry? Continue carving and lay the slices in a serving dish with chicken stock and herbs. The turkey sops up the stock- adds moisture and flavor.
5. Brining a turkey is the secret to a more moist, flavorful bird. The salt in a brine expands the cells of the turkey by pulling in water and trapping in extra flavor. Click here for a brining recipe.
6. Baste, baste, baste. Besides creating a coating of flavor on the bird and adding moisture, every time you open the oven you release 15º. This allows for the turkey to cook lower and slower, resulting in a more tender turkey.
7. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with onion,  celery, carrots, sprigs of herbs and/or a half of lemon. These will flavor the turkey from the inside out (with or without stuffing).

8. Make a gravy by adding a 1/4 c. of butter and flour to the pan your turkey cooked in (over med. heat). Whisk in 2 c. of stock and allow gravy to thicken. Season and if necessary use an emulsifier or blender for a smoother gravy. 
9. Cook your turkey upside down. Believe it or not this adds great moisture to the turkey.  The fats and juices from the dark meat drain down and baste the white meat. In the last hour turn you bird right side up to continue cooking.

10. What to do with leftovers: Carve turkey,  bag and freeze. Create amazing dishes like turkey croquetes and turkey and stuffing casserole. Or,  try my delicious "Day after Thanksgiving Quiche" that I posted on A Taste of Home. This recipe uses your turkey, roast, ham, mac & cheese, greens,  and stuffing! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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