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Let’s talk turkey: how to best prep for Thanksgiving dinner

Food
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(WTNH) – Thanksgiving preparations can be stressful. We’ve got some helpful tips for you to tackle cooking the big bird.

Establish how many people are coming to dinner, and how big of a bird you’ll need. We’ve provided you with a useful chart below.

There’s no need to splurge. Unless you have religious dietary laws you must follow, you don’t have to overspend.

Make sure to plan ahead. Most people buy frozen turkeys, and thawing requires patience. The safest way to thaw is in the fridge. It takes about 4-5 days for a 20 pound turkey to defrost.

Prepare your bird. Place your turkey on a sheet pan upside down, slice the wrapping and remove. This helps so that if you accidentally slice the skin you won’t cut into the breast meat. Remove the neck and package of giblets, they’ll be in the body or front cavity. Wash your bird, drain the juices, and pat it dry with clean paper towels.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. The average turkey weighs between 17-20 pounds which calculates cooking time between 3-4 hours. Here is a helpful conversion calculator.

Don’t forget to brine! Brining, or soaking your bird in a marinade makes meat juicy and flavorful. A basic brine includes water or stock, salt, herbs and spices. Here is a great recipe.

Rub the turkey with oil or butter. Season it with salt, pepper, and herbs. Instead of frequently opening oven doors when basting (which can dry out your bird), the oil or butter will keep your turkey moist. You can also put pats of butter under the skin.

Keep the stuffing on the side. Turkey will cook evenly if it’s not overstuffed. A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook, resulting in drier meat. Instead, fill the cavity with vegetables like onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and parsley.

Keep the oven shut! Resist peeking in the oven. Frequently opening the oven fluctuates cooking temperatures. This increases the chances of a dry bird. Check your temperatures, the turkey will be fully cooked at 165-170 degrees F in the breast.

Cover with foil after taking it out of the oven. This will keep the meat hot and lock in the juices. Don’t cover the turkey too tightly, we don’t want it to steam under the foil.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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