Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cooking at ThanksgivingImage by DianthusMoon via Flickr

Written by:  Christy Trent

       I am ashamed to admit it but in my forty some odd years I have never roasted a Thanksgiving turkey, or any other turkey for that matter. Don’t laugh. There is a good explanation. For one thing we never had children, plus my husband’s side of the family is very small and my side is very large. When we visit his family for thanksgiving dinner it consists of just three; mother-in-law, husband and I. On the other hand, my family consists of thirty plus! There is always plenty of food no matter where I go to eat.
    Since it is well known I have never roasted a turkey none of them want to trust me with such an important part of the meal. Green bean or corn casserole is my forte, and if the family is really worried abut my culinary skills I can always bring the rolls.
    This year I have decided between now and Christmas I am going to roast my first turkey---ever! I have a new stove just itching to be broken in with a succulent giant bird. The book, Talk Turkey to Me, by Renee S. Ferguson, is just the thing I need to help me in my quest.
    The first question virgin turkey roasters like me invariably ask is how big a bird should I buy? If leftovers are desired an easy rule of thumb is 1 ½ pounds per person. So for just my husband and me a 3 pound turkey will be sufficient. Do they even come that small?
    Next dilemma is how long do I need to thaw my frozen turkey? Check the label on the bird for thawing instructions and if it says thaw 2 to 3 days do not count the day you take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator.
It is very important to make sure the turkey is cooked thoroughly. The best way to be certain is with a meat thermometer stuck into the thigh. And definitely remove the plastic bag filled with giblets wedged into the cavity. Ick! No matter how disgusting the thought of sticking your hand into a raw turkey is, they must be removed. Nothing creepier than a steaming slimy bag of innards bursting open when you go to carving!
    Basting or adding spices to the turkey skin is next. There are dozens of different recipes using various condiments; mayonnaise, ketchup, maple syrup or butter, but these will only flavor the outside skin.
    Make sure you have a big enough pan, then either cook it covered or uncovered. But remember if cooked covered the turkey will not be a beautiful brown like in the magazines, although this is no indication of the doneness. Always check with a meat thermometer.
    Once in the oven you are free to watch the game or rest until the timer sounds. Then pull that turkey out and chow down to your hearts content.
    For more help with your holiday dinners this year head over to your local library and check out books to assist with your special days.
    Oh, yeah, and wish me luck with my first turkey!

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