Rules of Thumb: Turkey Tips

Get great tips on turkey thawing, thermometer placement, best roasting pan, and gorgeous garnish suggestions.

Thanksgiving is a joyous time. Even if you're the one doing all the cooking for the first time, don't fret, because I have some great tips and tricks to get your bird out of the oven and make you look like a pro! I'm Sandra Lee, and these tips are timeless. Now, let's talk about thawing out your bird. It's very important that you thaw your bird out in the refrigerator and it might take a little bit longer than you think. In fact, for every 4 pounds of bird, it takes an entire day to thaw out. So, if you have a 12-pound turkey, that's 3 days. Now, you wanna put your turkey onto a platter and into the lower part of your refrigerator to thaw out completely. Once your turkey is completely thawed out, you wanna take out the giblets, and they are going to be on both sides of your turkey; the neck and the rear end. The next thing you wanna do before you place your bird in the oven is put a thermometer into the thickest part of the bird, and that is in the thigh area, right here. Now, I'm gonna use a thermometer throughout the entire cooking process, but you can certainly use an instant-read as you cook your bird, if you don't have this. Make sure that when you insert your thermometer that you don't hit the bone, no, that's very important. Now, a couple of more things, you wanna make sure that your pan is nice and shallow so that air circulates completely around the bird as it cooks, and just for a little bit of extra flavor, I want you to go ahead and maybe put some citrus, some onions, and some fresh herbs right inside to add great flavor. You can also baste this with some wonderful butter for extra flavor. Now, this bird right here might look like it's thoroughly cooked, but it's not. And there is a very easy way to tell if it is or not. An instant-read thermometer, and you'll insert that right into the same place, into the thigh. Your thermometer should read 180 degrees. If it doesn't, it's not done, and it needs to go back into the oven. The reason why you might think this bird looks like it's cooked all the way through is because it's got that beautiful golden brown. Well, you don't want this to brown any more, so we wanna tent it before it goes back into the oven. Just take a little bit of aluminum foil and put it right over the breast. Just like this. Pop it back into the oven, and it will be perfect when it's done, and this also helps protect the breast meat from getting dried out. Now, let's talk about taking your turkey from the pan right to the table and how to make a beautiful presentation. Just take your favorite herb. In this case, I've used sage, but you could certainly use rosemary if you want to. Maybe some crabapples or, by the way, you could get those gorgeous champagne grapes. That would be gorgeous! So, whether it's Thanksgiving or it's the Christmas season, getting a perfect bird on your table in no time is easy. From everyone here at bhg.com, we wanna wish you a very happy and a healthy holiday season. Bye-bye.

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