This Thursday is Thanksgiving and with the holiday on the way marks another year of trying not to mess up the turkey! We are here to give you our tips on how to get the perfect turkey so that you can rest easy and impress your guests!
How to Thaw your Turkey
The USDA recommends thawing your turkey in the refrigerator. This is the safest method because the turkey will thaw at a consistent, safe temperature. This method takes some time, so allow one day for each 4 – 5 pounds of weight. If your turkey weighs 16 pounds, it will take about four days to thaw. It is important to keep the whole turkey at a safe temperature throughout the entire thawing process to prevent bacterial growth that could lead to foodborne illness.
How Much Turkey per Person?
To buy the right size turkey for your feast you’ll want to figure on about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person when choosing your turkey. You will also want to add on a few pounds if you want any leftovers which can be the best part!
Invest in a Good Meat Thermometer
Check the doneness of your turkey by inserting an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey around the thigh. Your turkey will be done when it hits at least 165 degrees F and it will continue to cook as it rests, so the temperature will probably continue to rise another few degrees.
Should you Brine Your Turkey
Many people swear by brining a turkey before choosing to cook it. During brining (similar to marinading) the turkey absorbs extra moisture which helps it stay juicy and well-seasoned. The salt in a brine also helps to break down some of the turkey’s proteins making it even more tender. While it is not necessary to brine a turkey before cooking, any turkey will taste better if brined in salt for a day or two before cooking. The method of brining involves immersing the turkey in a saltwater solution with additional seasonings if wanted. Brining takes a little planning ahead of time but really it is less hands-on time then it would to actually cook it most of the time.
A wet and dry brine for turkeys work essentially in the same way. They both infuse the turkey’s meat with salt which helps keep your turkey tender. The salt is the real star of the brine mixtures.
How to Wet Brine a Turkey
Wet brining is a simple solution of water and salt and additional spices you like. You will need water, salt, spices and aromatics if you choose such as orange peels, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, lemon peels, etc and a large stock pot or food grade bucket to brine your turkey. Most people brine a turkey for 24 hours before cooking it however you can brine the turkey for as long or as less if you are in a time crunch. The common amount of salt is ½ to 2/3 cup per gallon of water. You can customize all these elements to suit your own taste!
Want to add a flavor twist to your brine this year? Try these three techniques below:
- Beer Brine – Just add 4 cans of your favorite beer – preferably an IPA or Stout
- Apple Sweet Brine – Just add 8 cups of apple juice or cider
- Asian Soy Brine – Just add a 12 oz bottle of your favorite soy sauce
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Dry brining draws the turkey’s natural moisture out of the meat and the salt mixes with the turkey’s juices and is reabsorbed back into the meat. Dry brining is a salt-heavy rub that can also be mixed with other spices depending on your preference. For every two pounds of turkey, pour one tablespoon of kosher salt and combine with any other dry spice such as black petter, paprika, oregano, rosemary or thyme. Cover the turkey with the dry rub mixture and transfer to the refrigerator and let the turkey brine uncovered for 12 to 24 hours before cooking.
Give Your Turkey a Rest
To lock in your turkey juices, place a piece of loose foil on top of your turkey and let it rest for at least 15 – 20 minutes before carving. This will help lock in the juices and keep your turkey from drying out right before serving.
No matter how you choose to cook your Thanksgiving turkey this year, we here at Aqua Quip can help find the perfect smoker, grill or accessories for you. We have lots of options and would love to help create new traditions in your home this Thanksgiving!