How to Choose, Cook and Serve the Perfect Turkey
Image by Whole Foods Market
Basting the turkey only during the beginning of its cooking time will result in a beautifully golden, crispy skin
No need to avoid hosting a family gathering just because turkey is on the menu. Follow these tips to put together a turkey dinner that will do your mom proud
Selecting and cooking a turkey can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, but if you’re determined to host a bird-centred meal this holiday season, here are a few tricks of the trade.
Selecting the Right Turkey
The first consideration in selecting the right turkey is size. Bart Janssen, a butcher at Whole Foods Market, advises tallying the number of guests you’re expecting and then taking leftovers into account too (you’ll want some for the amazing recipes below). "The rule of thumb is typically 1.5 pounds or about 700 grams of whole turkey per person."
Then, consider where the bird comes from. Denise Breyley, Whole Foods’ regional local forager for the Pacific Northwest, says it’s her job is to discover new and exciting producers in BC – like Rossdown Farms and JD Farms Specialty Turkey, who raise turkeys in the Fraser Valley, which are available in Vancouver Whole Foods stores this Thanksgiving.
Keep in mind: the more care that went into raising the bird, the higher the price tag.
Turkey Roasting 101
Now that you’ve selected the right turkey, it’s time to cook your bird to perfection.
The length of time you’ll need to cook the turkey depends on its freshness, size, whether or not you stuffed it, and the cooking temperature, which depends on your oven and the recipe you’re following.
Some recipes, like this one for a golden roasted turkey, call for the same temperature throughout the entire cooking process, whereas this honey and rosemary brined turkey calls for two different cooking temperatures – starting at 450F and decreasing to 350F after 30 minutes.
Here are some additional tips on cooking the perfect turkey from the Whole Foods blog:
• Remove giblets before cooking turkey
• For extra crispy skin, only baste once, early in cooking time, and place turkey on rack in roasting pan
• Add cooking liquid like white wine or chicken broth to pan
• Cook the turkey breast side down for the first hour
• Invest in a good meat thermometer, which should read 165F when turkey is done
• Let turkey rest, covered, for 30 minutes once removed from oven to let juices redistribute
In the video below, chef Hosea Rosenberg demonstrates how to roast a turkey, step by step.
Carving: Mastering the Perfect Slice
Once you’ve removed the turkey from the oven and allowed it to sit, it’s time to carve. In this next video, Rosenberg demonstrates how to do it correctly.
Scrumptious Recipes for Side Dishes, Dessert and Leftover Turkey
Why not spice up your plate by trying some sides besides the usual potatoes, peas and carrots. Here are some recipes to add some pizazz to this year’s dinner and use up your leftovers in new ways:
- Roasted Potatoes and Parsnips with Thyme
- Roasted Chestnut Stuffing
- Fancy Italian Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Pears
- Wilted Kale with Fresh Cranberries
- Pumpkin Pecan Cookies
- Zero-Mile Baked Apples
- Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust and Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream
- Whole Wheat Pie Crust
- Mexican Turkey Soup
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Turkey and Sweet Potato Curry
- Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole
- Thai-Style Red Curry with Turkey and Green Beans
And don't forget to choose a great wine pairing for your meal.