The first time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner I was terrified. Mostly I was terrified about the prospect of roasting a turkey. Thankfully, that ended up being the easiest part of my day. With my 3 last-minute tips for perfect turkey and delicious Thanksgiving recipes, menus and planners, it will be the easiest part of your Thanksgiving day too.
3 last-minute tips for perfect turkey
1. OK, Thanksgiving has arrived-time to get that turkey ready to roast! Skip rubbing down your turkey with butter-use fresh herbs and spices to add amazing flavor to your turkey without added fat. Start by rubbing a seasoning mixture over the turkey, then tuck in the wing tips underneath and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Find step-by-step photos that show you how to get your turkey ready to roast here.
2. After roasting, let your turkey rest for at least 20 minutes (to allow the juices in the turkey redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in juicier turkey). Use the time to make a delicious gravy with the pan juices from the turkey. Here are our three secrets for lump-free gravy: 1. Use a whisk! It's the best tool to distribute ingredients quickly and evenly. 2. Whisk your thickener (like flour or cornstarch) into a small amount of broth or water before adding it to your gravy. Adding your thickener directly into the gravy can cause gooey lumps that are hard to mix in. 3. Strain the gravy through a fine sieve and return it to the pan to continue cooking; then if you want it thicker, use the thickening method described above. See how to use the juices from your turkey pan to make healthier gravy and get our easy step-by-step recipe.
3. Now that your turkey has rested, here comes the good part-eating it! But first, you have to carve the turkey. Be sure to have a sharp carving knife and sturdy fork. Start by placing the turkey on a cutting surface and remove string tying the legs together. Holding the turkey steady with a carving fork, cut through the skin between the leg and body using a large carving knife. Pull leg outward with the fork and cut through the hip joint, removing the entire leg from the body. Get the rest of the steps to carve your turkey, including how to remove the breast meat from the bone, with our step-by-step carving guide (with pictures!). Print it out and tape it to the cabinet closest to your carving station. You'll be carving like a pro in no time!
Have you picked your turkey recipe? EatingWell's 7 perfect turkey recipes use flavorful herbs and spices and fresh fruits and vegetables to add a lot of flavor without a lot of fat. This Herb-Roasted Turkey is a great, and you can adjust the herbs and seasonings to your taste-or to whatever you already have in your refrigerator.
Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 3 1/2 hours
Equipment: Large roasting pan, roasting rack, kitchen string, thermometer
This method produces all the good looks and moist flavor you dream of in a Thanksgiving turkey. Make sure you show this beauty off at the table before you carve it. Garnish your serving platter with fresh herb sprigs and citrus wedges.
1 10- to 12-pound turkey
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs plus 20 whole sprigs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and/or marjoram, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups Aromatics: onion, apple, lemon and/or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups water, plus more as needed
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 475°F.
2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making gravy. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place aromatics and 10 of the herb sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water and the remaining 10 herb sprigs to the pan.
3. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven. If using a remote digital thermometer, insert it into the deepest part of the thigh, close to the joint. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water. The turkey is done when the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone) registers 165°F.
4. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove string and carve.
Makes 12 servings, 3 ounces each, plus plenty of leftovers.
Per serving (without skin): 155 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 0 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 0 g fiber; 175 mg sodium; 258 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Selenium (43% daily value), Zinc (16% dv).
By Carolyn Malcoun
When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.
More from EatingWell:
- Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Pumpkin Pie & more delicious Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts recipes.
- Have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less with our Quick Healthy Dinner Recipes.
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