Turkey 101

Turkey 101

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s time to talk turkey. Follow these 8 expert tips for the perfect bird. From shopping to prepping, brining to cooking, here’s everything you need to make a turkey that’s juicy, flavourful and a crowd-pleasing centerpiece for your holiday table.


 Size it right:

Estimating 1½ lbs of turkey per person allows for generous portions and leftovers. The best-size birds for roasting are between 12 and 16 lbs. Any larger and you risk uneven cooking, i.e. undercooked thighs or overcooked breast meat. If you need more meat, cook a ham alongside the turkey instead.


Thawing time:

Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance. Thawing can take several days—one day per 4 lbs—and should be done in the fridge. No time or room? Leave in wrapper submerged in cold water in a sink—30 minutes per pound.


Plan ahead:

Fresh ready-to-cook turkeys require no thawing and can be purchased two to three days before Thanksgiving. But whether you order from a farm or butcher, do so a few weeks ahead, specifying the size bird you require.


Dinner for two:

Good news if you’re only cooking for yourself and one other! Butterball now sells Easy Fresh, individually packaged turkey parts, such as breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings, with as few as two pieces per package.


Easy brining:

For a simpler and much less messy alternative to brining, Claire Tansey, cookbook author of Uncomplicated, recommends dry brining. “Just sprinkle generously with kosher salt and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight. In the morning, rinse well, pat dry and slather with unsalted butter.


The right temperature:

Cook turkey in a 325°F (160°C) oven. The only true way of ensuring the turkey is thoroughly cooked is with a meat thermometer. Wait for temperatures to reach 180°F (82°C) in the inner thigh and 160°F (71°C) in the centre of the stuffing.


Timing’s everything:

A stuffed 10- to 18-lb turkey will take approximately 3¾ to 4½ hours to cook. For picture-perfect results, start checking doneness 30 minutes before recommended time. Once out of the oven, let turkey rest at least 15 minutes before carving.


Turkey trauma?

Call Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line at 800-288-8372.