Is it your turn to cook the holiday turkey for the family
Never fear — we got your back!
In my humble opinion, cooking the turkey is the easiest part of dinner preparations — plus you get the benefits of a warm house steeped in roast turkey aroma and all the leftovers (sharing is optional)!
We’ve cooked A LOT of turkey over the years on the farm, and here are our best tips for a perfect turkey:
- Always start with the best ingredients. Meal preparation can be super simple when you start with quality, flavourful ingredients, like a Pine View Farms turkey! Let the meat flavour stand for itself.
- When choosing a turkey, estimate about 1 lb. of bird per person if you’re not having any other main dishes (ex. Ham, cabbage rolls or perogies). If you’re having a few mains, you can reduce that number to 1/3 to ½ pound per person.
- When you buy a fresh turkey from Pine View Farms, you don’t have to worry about thawing it in advance. But if you’ve got a frozen bird, it will take 3-4 days to thaw in the fridge OR, put it in a sink full of cold water overnight (keep it in the package) and it will be thawed by morning.
- Let your bird come to room temperature before putting it in the oven. This allows for more even cooking and it won’t dry out as easily in the oven.
- You don’t need to rinse your bird. Instead, pat the skin of the bird dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This will ensure golden crisp skin. Another way to ensure that beautiful roasted colour is to brush the skin with olive oil or melted butter.
- There are all sorts of ways to cook your turkey — oven roasting, barbecue, deep fry, wet brine, dry brine and more. Check our website for various cooking methods.
- Make sure your roaster will fit your bird. If the lid doesn’t fit, just tent the bird with foil (shiny side in), and it will cook just fine.
- Stuff your bird just before you put it in the oven. Fill the cavity loosely as stuffing expands as it cooks. Add 5 minutes per pound of turkey to your cook time for a stuffed bird.
- Once your bird is in the oven, pour yourself a glass of punch, pat yourself on the back, and sit for a few minutes!
- During roasting, you may certainly baste the bird, if you wish. My mother-in-law roasts her turkey with the breast down so that all the juices drip down onto the breast. Brilliant.
- I’m too lazy to baste my turkey, so I make a mixture of butter, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper and fresh or dried herbs like thyme and sage. Here is my recipe. I gently lift the breast skin and rub the butter mixture onto the meat, patting the skin down on top. This adds flavour and moisture. I roast my turkey, breast up, in an old fashioned black speckled roaster, covered until the last 45 minutes of cooking, at which time, I remove the lid and let the skin get brown and crispy.
- Advance preparation is key to dinner success and less stress. I like to make my menu well in advance, delegating the side dishes and desserts to willing family members as much as possible!
- I select my recipes, make lists, shop in advance, and visualize my timelines so that all the meal components come together at once. The devil is in the details!
- Chopping and prepping ingredients the night before (or first thing in the morning) makes my kitchen runs like a Food Network cooking show. It’s well worth the time and forethought. Moreover, it’s easier to delegate work to willing family helpers hanging around your kitchen on dinner day when all they need to do is assemble ingredients.
Following these steps will easily ensure the turkey is the star of your holiday table. Your mother-in-law will rave and the family will be in awe of the beautiful, generous table you have set for them.
And really, we cook because we LOVE . . . because food is one way to make love visible to those we care about most.
May you find peace, joy and a little rest this holiday season!