You notice I didn’t say tastiest or prettiest. Don’t be mistaken. This is a very respectable turkey and I would be proud to serve it to friends and family. The picture above is from this exact recipe. looks good eh? My goal with this recipe is to take the stress out of preparing the main dish on Thanksgiving day. That and actually giving back some of the oven space to you to prepare all those amazing other side dishes!
I hope your sitting down because I’m about to throw you for a loop here……
Cook the turkey frozen and carve it the day before Thanksgiving
Now if your still reading this and haven’t moved on to another more respectable food blog let me tell you why this works.
90% of the food you eat in a restaurant is prepped, partially cooked and back in the fridge at least 1 day prior. There are some exceptions to that rule but more than not there is a ton of prep that happens every day to serve the following evening. If done correctly the food is just as fresh and flavorful if it was prepared from scratch the same day. Specifically, cooking meats 75% is considered par-cooking. The last 25% is cooked when your order is placed. That’s what we are going to do here.
[blockquote align=”none” cite=”Wikipedia”]Par-cooking refers to the technique of partially cooking foods so that they can be finished later. There are two primary reasons for using this technique. First, it allows foods to be prepared ahead of time, and quickly heated prior to serving. Since the second reheat finishes the cooking process, foods are not overcooked as leftovers often are. This is a common technique in the processed food industry, and most frozen and prepared foods are par-cooked. From wikipedia. A second reason is to take advantage of different cooking techniques. For example, one method of preparing french fries involves first boiling, then frying the potatoes, so they have a crisp exterior and fluffy interior. In stir-fries or other mixed dishes, meats, root vegetables, and other foods that take a long time to cook, will be par-cooked so they finish at the same time as other foods.[/blockquote]
Turkey’s are cooked and safe to eat when the breast meat measures 165 degrees f and the thigh meat is 170-175 degrees f. For this turkey we are going to cook it just under that. You will finish it in the oven 30 minutes before you are ready to eat.
Once again this is not the juiciest turkey you ever had. For that I would thaw and brine the turkey for 24 hours prior to cooking and then continue to follow the recipe. It is however the easiest turkey you have ever cooked and still very tasty.
Tips to cooking Thanksgiving Turkey
- Temperature, not time, is the ultimate decider of when the turkey is done. Invest in a decent leave in thermometer. I use this one.
- In my opinion the juiciest turkey is a brined turkey. There are lots of recipes but Alton Brown has the best.
- Carve the turkey before taking it to the table. Nobody likes turkey juice flying in their face.
- Keep warm turkey or chicken stock on hand and drizzle over the sliced bird 2 seconds before taking it to the table
- DO NOT cook your turkey with stuffing inside. This might have worked for you in the past but you get a much tastier, and safer stuffing, if you cook it separately.
Click the picture to be taken to the post.