Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In just a few weeks, you and your family will sit down to enjoy a delicious meal that required several days' preparation. And at the center of the table, there will be a big, juicy turkey.
Whether you opt for fresh or frozen; organic, free-range or farm-raised, there are a few basic tips to keep in mind to ensure you get the best out of your bird.
To make sure you have enough turkey to satisfy all of your guests, you should assume 1 1/2 pounds per every adult and 3/4 pound for each child. For example, a 16 1/2 pound turkey will feed a dinner party of 10 adults and 3 children.
While a fresh turkey is ideal, the best time to purchase one is no more than the day before roasting, which can be a bit of a risk if you wait until the day before Thanksgiving to do your shopping.
However, if you're going to prepare a frozen turkey, keep in mind it takes a full 24 hours to defrost every five pounds of frozen turkey safely in the refrigerator. A 20-pound turkey would need to defrost for a full four days. Be sure to remove the giblets and neck from the cavity as soon as they can be removed, which will be before the turkey has defrosted completely.
It's also important to remember not to stuff your turkey ahead of time, as harmful bacteria growth could spoil the uncooked turkey. Wait until just before roasting and then stuff the body and the neck of the turkey. Do not over-pack, as the stuffing will expand during cooking. If packed in too tightly, it will be very dense instead of light and will also take longer to cook. You can sew the abdomen closed and sew the legs together close to the body so that the stuffing cooks evenly.
Once the turkey is defrosted, it's time to roast.
In a conventional oven, it can normally take 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours to fully roast a 20-poind turkey at 325°F with periodic basting. However, with convection, you can roast your holiday turkey almost 25 percent faster, reducing cooking time and eliminating basting altogether.
Convection Bake and Pure Convection cooking modes, available on the Dacor Renaissance and Discovery Wall Ovens and Epicure Dual-Fuel Ranges, circulate heat throughout the oven cell, reducing cooking for more even heating. With Pure Convection, a fan and baffle filter at the rear of the oven cell, behind the wall, removes flavor transfer.
To prevent the breast meat from drying out, loosely cover just the breast with a triple-thick sheet of aluminum foil and butter on the inside to prevent sticking if you're cooking in a conventional oven. Simply remove after the first hour of roasting so the breast has time to brown. In a convection oven, it is best to leave the turkey uncovered so that it benefits from the convection sear - but you can use aluminum foil to prevent the wings and legs from browning too much.
Never rely on the small pop-out plastic thermometer in some turkeys. If you wait for it, the turkey may over cook. Instead, insert an instant-read thermometer several inches down through the skin between the thigh and the breast so the tip ends up about an inch above the joint. The turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 180°F.
The Meat Probe, which is available for all Dacor wall ovens and ranges, makes cooking your turkey even easier. After connecting the probe inside the oven cavity, simply preset the desired temperature for your turkey (180°F) and insert the Meat Probe directly into the bird. A tone will sound when the preset temperature is reached and the oven will shut off and hold it at 150°F.
As with will all proteins, let the cooked turkey "rest" after it has been removed from the oven. While the turkey cooks, the juices are forced away from the heat to the middle of the turkey. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey. A moist turkey is easier to carve.
Click here for more tips from Dacor on preparing your Thanksgiving turkey.
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