Ah yes, the holiday season, a time for enjoying the short, chilly fall and winter days with your loved ones. Some people spend all year looking forward to the holidays and the family time, but I can tell you right now that the one thing I get more excited about than anything is the holiday food, and what food more iconic than the Thanksgiving turkey! A holiday staple, good for delicious slices of meat that dinner and all kinds of leftovers for days to come. Without further adieu let’s get right down to preparing and roasting this delicious holiday treat!
The first thing that you need to do is buy the turkey itself. It’s a good rule of thumb to buy a turkey a little larger than you might want. That leaves plenty for leftovers and makes doubly sure that you have more than enough for all of your guests. The weight of the turkey is hugely important in cooking it as well as it will determine how long you’re going to need to leave it in the oven! Most turkeys are about 15 pounds on average, but it’s not hard to find them larger or smaller depending on how much you want to cook and, more importantly, spend on it. Make sure to also pick up the extras like stuffing and sides while you;re out to avoid extra shopping trips into busy grocery stores.
Once you have your turkey it’s time to take care of some basic prep work. You’re going to want to take out the giblets (the inside bits of the turkey) before you cook it in case you want to cook them into gravy or another side. In either case they should be in a small baggy inside the cavity of the turkey. You’ll also want to make sure you have your cooking tray handy, using a disposable aluminum tray can help save some cash and also cut cleanup time way down (who wants to be cleaning after dinner anyway?). You’ll also want to rinse the turkey inside and out then pat it dry with a paper towel to prepare it for being cooked. Once it’s dry, place it breast side up in the tray and prepare the seasoning. A quick and easy preparation tip is to rub with olive oil and then salt and pepper to taste, but feel free to use your own recipe if you have one.
Now it’s time to toss the bird into the oven (though you should keep in mind that if you are making stuffing that now is the time to put it in the turkey) so preheat to 350 degrees and put your turkey in inside its cooking tray. Depending on preference you may want to loosely cover your turkey with aluminum foil to help steam it in its own juices. You may also want to invest in a turkey baster, though this is entirely optional. Basting a turkey helps to flavor it evenly in its own juices and also keeps the skin on top from drying out. If you do baste, make sure you do it evenly every thirty minutes or so. The overall cooking time varies depending on how big your bird is. The average time is 10-12 minutes per pound unstuffed and 12-15 stuffed, just make sure that the internal temperature is an even 350 in the thickest part of the meat with a meat thermometer before serving. When the turkey is done, pull it out, carve it, and put it on the table for everyone to enjoy!