The holidays are right around the corner … and nothing says the holidays more than the sights, smells and tastes of a perfectly-seasoned turkey roasting in the oven. As the centerpiece of the holiday meal, all eyes (and taste buds) are on the turkey – with even the most experienced home chef always looking for ways to ensure that this year’s turkey wins rave reviews from everyone at the table … and often intimidated by the daunting task of cooking the picture-perfect turkey.
So how do you make sure that your turkey comes out perfect year after year … and what are some of the “secrets to success” that professional chefs swear by in cooking not only the perfect turkey for their clients … but for their own family and friends?
- Choose wisely. When deciding what type of turkey to cook, consider your options – and which would work best for your family and friends. Do you want an organic turkey this year? There are lots of great options these days for turkeys raised according to organic standards. If you’d prefer a traditional turkey, you can choose between fresh or frozen – looking for the healthiest-looking one in the size/weight range you are looking for. For those who like an old-fashioned breed of turkey, a heritage turkey (which is often leggier, leaner and more flavorful) is a great choice. Whatever turkey you choose, plan on about 1 – 1.5 lbs of turkey per person when choosing the weight of your bird.
- Season generously .. and a day ahead of time to let the flavor fully sink in.
- Bring to room temperature before cooking. Bring the turkey to room temperature for an hour before you cook it – this will help it cook more evenly.
- Add vegetables. Enhance the flavor of your turkey – and create a natural roasting rack – by placing vegetables like carrots, onions and celery on the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Consider brining . The basic ratio of salt to water for a brine is 4 tablespoons of salt per 1 quart (4 cups) of water until the meat is completely submerged. To infuse your meat with extra flavor, throw in some of your favorite spices into your brine that will complement the finished dish.
- Give it a rub-down. Before putting it in the oven, make sure the skin of the turkey is as dry as possible, and then rub it all over with butter to ensure a moist meat.
- Lock in the juices. Before carving use foil to “tent” your turkey while it rests for about 15-20 minutes.
Follow these general simple tips and you’ll be sure to roast the perfect turkey this year. And, if you’d like to pair it with the perfect side, follow one of my favorite “Thanksgiving” recipes, that I’ll be cooking up this Thanksgiving!
Wild About Cranberry Sauce!
- 2 cups fresh cranberries or raspberries
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 ½ cup water
- 2 apples chopped (Macintosh & granny smith)
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Cranberry/Pear Balsamic Vinegar
- Place fresh cranberries, fresh lime juice, water, apples, sugar in a large pot. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The cranberries will start to Pop!
- Slightly mash the mixture with a large fork or small masher for the desired texture. Remove from heat, add the Cranberry/ Pear Balsamic, give it a good stir and let cool.