I recently wrote a post on things you can do ahead of time to help make Thanksgiving a little more stress-free. As the holiday approaches ever closer, I thought it would be a good time to refresh our memories on the actual cooking of the turkey and a couple of traditional side dishes.
AnswerLine recommends cooking your fresh or thawed turkey at 325 degrees for 12 minutes per pound. When using your meat thermometer it should register 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh and 165 degrees in the breast or stuffing. You will also want to allow a 20-30 minute rest time before serving.
If you have purchased a frozen turkey, you will want to thaw it for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. Thaw it in the refrigerator in it’s packaging until the night before you are going to cook it then place it uncovered on a large roasting pan overnight in the refrigerator to dehydrate the skin. You can massage the skin with softened butter right before cooking.
You should plan on 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds of turkey per person which would include seconds and leftovers. A twelve pound or larger turkey is recommended as smaller turkeys usually have less meat on the bone.
When deciding which type of potato is best for your mashed potatoes here is a quick guide:
For fluffy mashed potatoes, starchy russets work best. For chunky mashed potatoes, waxy red bliss potatoes work best. For creamy mashed potatoes, Yukon Golds work well. It is not a good idea to mix the different types of potatoes as they cook at different rates. To cook the potatoes begin by cutting them into 1 inch chunks and cover them with cold salted water. Bring them to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes. When you are ready to mash the potatoes, a ricer or potato masher work best. Blenders, handheld mixers, and food processors tend to overwork the potatoes which causes more starch to be released which results in more gluey mashed potatoes.
To make gravy, melt 1/2 cup butter, stir in 1/2 cup flour to make a roux then add 8 cups of a combination of drippings and broth. You can pour the drippings into a liquid measuring cup and once the fat floats to the top you can spoon it off.
A basic cranberry sauce can be made by adding 2 Tablespoons of water and 1 cup of sugar to a 12 ounce bag of cranberries. Cook over low heat until the berries pop – about 10-20 minutes. This will keep in the refrigerator about 1 week.
AnswerLine will be answering calls from 9:00-4:00 (even over the lunch hour) the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Please call us with any questions you might have! We love to talk with you and help in any way we can!