Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, cooking a turkey can be overwhelming. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many Canadians are hoping to prepare a delicious meal that will have their guests clamouring for seconds.
Even though it may feel intimidating to be in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey, it doesn't have to be. We've compiled a list of common mistakes that people make when it comes to making a holiday turkey, from the prep to the cooking and even serving.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 1: Not giving your turkey enough time to thaw
Timing is everything when it comes to preparing the perfect holiday turkey. Days before you are set to host holiday dinner you'll want to transfer your turkey from your freezer to your fridge to begin the thawing process. It takes approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of meat to thaw. So, if you're serving a 20 pound turkey, it will take approximately four days to thaw in your refrigerator.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 2: Forgetting to bring your turkey to room temperature
On the day that you're set to cook your turkey, be sure to let your refrigerator-thawed turkey sit at room temperature for about an hour to an hour and a half before. Allowing your bird to adjust to room temperature allows for a moist and evenly-cooked turkey.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 3: Putting a damp turkey in the oven
An easy way to get that perfectly caramelized, crisp turkey that guests love is to thoroughly pat dry both the inside and outside of the turkey before seasoning and putting in the oven.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 4: Not stuffing the turkey safely
If you're choosing to stuff your turkey, both the bird and the stuffing should be cold.
Health Canada advises that if you’re going to stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting, and make sure to remove the stuffing as soon as it’s cooked. Your stuffing should reach a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) on a digital food thermometer.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 5: Cross-contamination
Cross-contamination is a big concern when preparing multiple dishes for large meals around the holidays. Planning ahead and keeping distractions to a minimum can help to prevent the spread of food borne illnesses, as can proper hygiene and food preparation.
Opting for a pre-stuffed turkey can help cut down on holiday stress and the potential for cross-contamination. All you need to do then is pop the bird in the oven, and worry about sides.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 6: Starting off with high heat
One of the biggest mistakes people make when roasting a turkey is starting the bird off at a very high heat in order to get a golden colour on their turkey. Pre-heat your oven at 450° F and then dropping the temperature to 350°F allowing for approximate 13 minutes of cook time for each point of turkey.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 7 : Forgetting to use a meat thermometer
A meat thermometer is a must-have when cooking a turkey. Even though there are guides for how long to cook your bird, a meat thermometer can help prevent over and under cooking. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey; once the temperature reaches 74°C (165°F) , your turkey is ready to take out of the oven and safe to eat.
Turkey cooking mistake no. 8: Not letting your turkey sit before serving
Even though it might be tempting to take your turkey out of the oven and directly to the table for serving, it's best to let your turkey sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer your turkey from the roasting pan to a clean surface like a cutting board or platter and cover with aluminum foil allowing the turkey to absorb juices and remain warm until it's ready to serve.