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Turkey Tips

All of your Thanksgiving Turkey Questions Answered!

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Molly AdamsStamford, CT
NYC cook making the most out of a tiny kitchen! Senior Editor, feedfeed.
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Turkey troubles?  Don't worry, we've got your covered.  Read on for answers to the most common turkey woes.  Still looking for the perfect turkey recipe?  Check our two favorites, one Dry-Brined and Whole Roasted, and the other Dry-Brined and Spatchcocked.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

We don't. Instead we add just a few aromatics like lemon halves, onions and fresh herbs and bake our stuffing separately. If you choose to stuff your bird, it will take longer to cook as you'll need to get the stuffing to 165˚š F to be safe, which makes overcooking the rest of the turkey more likely.


Should you Fuss with Trussing?

Yes! Trussing your turkey will make it more compact, and therefore allow it to cook more evenly. Place the bird breast side up on the counter. Take wings and flip the first joint under the body of the turkey. You'€™ll have to use a bit of force here. It may take a couple tries, but eventually you will be able to get the first wing joint nestled neatly under the body of the turkey. Take the Turkey's legs and cross one over the top of the other. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together by making a figure-eight around both legs and then securing it tightly.


Brined or Simply Roasted?

This is one of most fiercely debated Thanksgiving issues. We're going to have to remain neutral here and say there are advantages to both. If you do brine, make sure to read your recipe of choice ahead of time as most require you to start the process about 48 hours in advance. If you are using a wet-brine make sure you choose a vessel large enough to fit both the turkey and the liquid and that said vessel can fit in your fridge (we've made this mistake before and it wasn't pretty!).


Baste, or waste of time?


Sorry to all the Turkey purists out there, but we think it's a waste of time, and temperature. Opening the oven numerous times throughout the day will dramatically affect the temperature inside which can lead to slow-cooking turkeys. We do like to baste the turkey a few times in the last hour or so of cooking when the fat from the turkey is fully rendered, which helps to brown and crisp the skin.


When is it done?

Use an instant read thermometer! To kill harmful bacteria a Turkey needs to reach 165˚ F. We like to take our bird out when the temperature of the breast is about 155˚F and the leg is 165˚F (taken by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone). Carry over cooking will bring the breast meat of the bird to the proper temperature while it rests.