Chefs Emporium 8 essential Turkey Tips

8 Essential Secrets for Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey


With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for the big day. After all, for us foodies, Thanksgiving is like the Superbowl! The first step to planning the big meal is the Thanksgiving turkey preparation—every good cook knows this is the centerpiece to the holiday meal. If it’s not done right, the whole meal is off. 

I have 8 essential secrets that will ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection and looks as good as it smells—and tastes—to steal the show.   

Let’s start with our cooking equipment list:

  • A good quality Roasting Pan (without a doubt, the most important tool)
  • V-rack to roast the bird on
  • Digital or Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Butchers twine
  • Brining bag
  • Fat separator
  • Kitchen timer
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Basting pot and brush
  • Potato ricer
  • Whisk
  • Baking dish
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Pie plate
  • Rolling pin
  • Measuring cups
  • Metal prep bowls
  • Turkey-lifter
  • Carving knife and large carving board

BONUS: Try our amazing popover recipe to go with your turkey

Secret #1: Preparing the turkey
If this is the first turkey you’ve ever cooked, it’s critical to know how long it takes to thaw the bird. Depending on the size, it can take from 2 to 12 hours! Remove the giblets from the bird. If you’re using a frozen bird, make sure it is entirely thawed before you remove the giblets. Next, rinse with cold water inside and out and pat dry with a paper towel.

Secret #2: Brining
Think of brining like marinating. It helps season and keeps moisture in the meat so the turkey stays flavorful and juicy. Brining recipes vary and depend on what flavors you like. Just always allow 8-12 hours for the turkey in the brine mix. Keep the turkey totally submerged and top with a heavy metal lid. Once the turkey has brined long enough, remove it from the brine and rinse well with cold water. Next, let’s prep for the oven.

Secret #3: Butter makes it better
Rub soft butter under and on top of the skin. As it melts, it bastes the turkey and adds flavor.

Secret #4: Stuffing
Cook your stuffing separately in another dish—a turkey with stuffing takes longer to cook. Instead, fill the bird’s cavity with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, apples and fresh herbs to release the most tantalizing aromas.

Secret #5: Keep it loose
Truss the legs loosely. If tied too tightly, the legs will need more time to cook and your breast meat will overcook.

Secret #6: Downward…turkey
Start by roasting the turkey upside down. Placing the turkey breast-side down on the roasting V-rack for the first hour essentially allows it to baste itself.

Next, tuck in the wings to ensure they don’t move around. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set the temperature for between 161°F and 165°F. Next, place diced carrots, onions and celery in the bottom of the pan for extra flavor.    

Secret #7: Timing is everything
Whatever you do, DO NOT baste the turkey during the last hour of cooking or the skin could turn out flabby instead of golden and crispy.

Secret # 8: Be patient
Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving to let the juices redistribute. 

From our kitchen to yours…Cucina Felice! Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Michele at Chef's
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