Oh turkey. The star of the show.
The thing about turkey is this: everyone does it differently. My way isn't the right way. Some people fry that sucker, other people brine it, some people choose to do two smaller birds, some people only do white meat and some people like to sear up some turkey cutlets and call it a day. Whatever your method, it's all good as long as that bird is juicy and delicious.
I am a whole bird kinda girl. I'm also a dark meat girl. All. the. way.
Many new cooks or new hosts really freak out about cooking the turkey. But truly, the bird is the easiest part. You don't have to watch it too much, you don't have to continue heating it. It should take the longest of your Thanksgiving dishes, so everything else should work around the turkey. Remember, your turkey is the star. A bunch of good sides won't make up for a dry turkey. But never fear, you can do this bird!
Here are a few of my favorite tricks for getting a juicy, delectable turkey...
// at this point, if your turkey isn't well on its way to being defrosted, you aren't totally out of luck, but you definitely should remember that for next year. last year, our turkey wasn't quite defrosted enough, so we stuck it in the jacuzzi tub, and ran the water and the jacuzzi. it was totally weird, but it totally worked. i can't remember how long we left it in there, but it was totally sanitary and totally safe. (my husband works in the restaurant business and it's a stickler for food safety)
// season it well. the way to do it is with butter. unsalted butter. my method is that i melt a couple of sticks of butter in a small saucepan on the stove. i usually add poultry seasoning to this melted butter. (you could also experiment with fresh herbs because that is for surely going to get you a beautiful bird) now, you have to SLATHER the turkey in this butter. (don't use it all at first though) you gotta get it in every crevice and under the skin. this is 100% the most important part. do a good job of getting butter under the skin now because you can't do it once it's been in the oven. get her in the oven and use a pastry brush to baste your bird every 1/2 hour-45 minutes. you might need a strong man to get your 20-pounder out that often.
// don't stuff it. okay, i've never done this, so i have no idea why you'd do this or why you wouldn't do this. all i know is that i don't and my turkey is yummy. i like to stick a couple of quartered, peeled onions and a couple of halved lemons in the cavity instead. yum.
// speaking of the cavity, make sure you take out the bag with the neck and giblets before you cook it.
// carve in the kitchen. i don't carve. one day i will try, but for now, i don't. but i do know that you should carve in the kitchen so you don't get rushed and so that you can take your time getting nice cuts.
// love your turkey. seriously. when you put love into your cooking, it's apparent.
so if this is your 1st or 50th turkey, no worries. it will be great. just remember the butter and the love.