Preparing a turkey can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. With these tips, it can be much easier. It actually seems a lot harder than it is. These simple tips can guide you through preparing a turkey with ease.
1. Thaw It Correctly
The first thing you need to know about preparing a turkey is the correct way to thaw it. There are two ways to do this. You can thaw the turkey in the refrigerator over the course of a few days or you can thaw it in cold water, changing it every 30 minutes. Thawing in the refrigerator is the most often recommended way. The package the turkey is in should have detailed instructions on how long it needs to thaw.
2. Remove the Inner Package
This is a simple step but one that can easily be forgotten. Inside your turkey will be a package you need to remove that contains the giblets and neck. All you have to do is reach inside the cavity and pull the inner package out. Occasionally, the giblets and neck will not be in a package. Either way, it’s best to remove them before cooking your turkey and cook them separately.
3. Wash and Dry Your Turkey
After your turkey is thawed and you are ready to begin cooking it, you should wash and dry it. This is a simple process. Remove the outer packaging and the inner package. You want to wash the turkey with water inside and outside then pat dry. Then you’ll be ready to season your turkey.
4. Add Basic Seasoning
There are many different ways you can season your turkey. The most basic is to use butter, salt and pepper. You can rub your turkey down with butter to help it brown then follow with a good shake of salt and pepper. I like to add sage, too. If you want something a little fancier, there are tons of recipes to help you do that.
5. Know when to Add Stuffing
People like their stuffing prepared differently. Some people choose to stuff their turkey and others choose to fix the stuffing as a dish on the side. I’ve always just fixed my stuffing as a side dish. If you choose to fix stuffing inside the turkey, don’t add it until right before you place your turkey in the oven. Adding it too early can make the stuffing more likely to absorb bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
6. Use a Meat Thermometer
It’s important that you make sure the turkey is completely done. Some turkeys come with a button that pops up to indicate the turkey is done. While that’s helpful, it’s still good to use a meat thermometer to double check it. The temperature should reach 180 degrees when measured in the thickest part of the turkey thigh. Another sign the turkey is done is if the juices run completely clear.
7. Clean Contaminated Surfaces
Lastly, it’s important to clean all the contaminated surfaces the turkey has touched. Raw turkey contains bacteria, which can make you sick. It’s important to clean your counters, sink, stove top and anywhere else that could be contaminated. You want to use something other than a damp cloth. A standard kitchen cleaner or Clorox wipes will work. Just be sure to go over that with soap and water so no residue from the cleaner gets into foods.
I hope these tips on turkey preparation have been helpful. Is this your first year of preparing a turkey? You’re welcome to share any turkey stories or tips that you have.