One of the most frustrating conundrums surrounding Thanksgiving (besides when to buy your turkey) is how to keep a turkey from drying out. Let’s face it, we’ve all had it happen, right? Or at least you’ve had dry turkey that has to be choked down with the rest of the meal. It can absolutely ruin your day. So how do we prevent the turkey from drying out? Well here are some of the best tips to keep your bird nice and moist this holiday season.
To begin with, you should buy a good quality meat thermometer. These can be found at any standard grocery store and usually cost $10-$15. The most important thing to think about when buying one is how long the wire is that attaches to the probe. You want it to be long enough that you will be able to place the probe into the bird and still read the temperature on the outside of the oven. Then place your turkey in a roasting pan to catch all of the juices.
It is also important to thoroughly clean your bird before cooking it. Some people pre-soak their birds in salty water, but this can actually dry out the bird. Instead, make a mixture of white vinegar and cold water, wipe it down with the solution, and allow it to dry. This will help pull any remaining bacteria from the surface of the meat.
Inject Your Turkey To Keep It Moist
One of the best things you can do to ensure that your turkey is moist and juicy is to inject it before cooking. This can sometimes be a hard thing to do because you want to get it right. You have to inject evenly so that the injection goes throughout the meat and doesn’t pool in one area. Some ideas for injection include butter, apple juice or cider, lemon-lime soda, or anything else that may tickle your fancy. You can also include some herbs and spices in here as well, but you don’t want to go overboard. Just a kiss of flavor is what you’re looking for. You don’t want to completely overpower the flavor of the turkey with your injection.
While basting the turkey can give you that nice crispy skin that you’re looking for, you also want to pay attention to the inside of the meat as well.
While a well-seasoned turkey is indeed delicious, oftentimes too much seasoning can be a bad thing. Too many spices or rubs can actually mask how good the meat actually tastes. Keep it simple with salt, pepper, and some savory herbs like rosemary and thyme.
To Stuff or Not To Stuff?
Don’t stuff your turkey! This is one of the biggest mistakes people make during Thanksgiving dinner. When you cook the stuffing inside of a turkey, it will reach internal temperatures of up to 185 degrees before the rest of the bird has completed cooking. This means that your turkey will have reached an internal temperature of up to 165 degrees before it is actually done. An unstuffed bird will cook faster and more evenly, plus you can make a great side dish with all of those delicious leftovers.
You may want to make the stuffing on the side without having to actually “stuff” your turkey. Be sure to check out one of our tips for amazing side dishes for turkey.
Another common mistake people make when roasting their bird is to cover it with foil for the majority of the cooking process. Tinfoil traps steam, crushing all of those delicious juices beneath its weight. Instead, leave your turkey uncovered in the oven for at least half of the cooking time, allowing some of that moisture to escape and let it brown evenly.
Turkey Carving Station
When you’re ready to carve your bird, start by removing the legs and thighs. Slice down from the top of the leg to get nice clean cuts between all of the joints. Then work your way around until you have a full leg in each hand.
Now remove the wings and slice them down to reveal two distinct parts: a meaty upper wing and a smaller, more tender “drummette.” Then remove the breast by slicing it on either side of the bird and pulling it off in whole pieces.
Finally, slice up your turkey and enjoy!
While turkeys can dry out very easily if left unattended, with these tips you will be able to keep your turkey moist and delicious this Thanksgiving!
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