Make your Thanksgiving dinner a triumph by cooking a traditional turkey topped with a tasty twist on sweet potatoes.
Celebrating the US Thanksgiving holiday (November 24) far from home can be difficult for some expats, not least if you find yourself doing all the preparations on your own. While the turkey typically receives all the attention, rounding out your meal with perfect snacks, sides and desserts is the key to a successful feast.
Centring your holiday meal around a turkey cooked to golden perfection is the ideal way to serve the feast. Without the right preparation and execution, however, your bird could fall short. To ensure your holiday dinner centrepiece lives up to expectations, follow these simple tips, from purchase to plate:
1. Buy the right bird
Finding a turkey that’s just the right size for your expected party is the ideal start to a successful gathering. One rule of thumb is to allocate 450g of turkey per person – so for a 10-person meal, buy a 4.6kg turkey. Don’t forget that nearly everyone loves leftovers so a few extra grams won’t go amiss.
2. Be patient
If you opt for a frozen turkey, don’t rush the thawing process, and this must be undertaken with great care. Larger turkeys can take several days to defrost properly, at room temperature. If you’re unsure about how to defrost, check out the website www.bernardmatthews.com. It offers an excellent guide and will calculate defrosting times based on the size and type of your bird.
3. Prepare and cook the turkey
After the turkey is defrosted, remove any giblets. Check there aren’t any ice crystals inside and pat dry using kitchen paper. Before it goes in the oven, make sure the bird is at room temperature. Put it on a roasting tray with room to spare so that any juices have room to seep out. Cover with tin foil, set your oven to 190C, and in it goes. For cooking times, as a rough guide; if the turkey is more than 4kg, cook for 20 minutes per kilo plus 90 minutes. If less than 4kg, it’s 20 minutes per kilo plus 70 minutes.
4. Let it stand
Instead of pulling the turkey out of the oven and immediately carving it, let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes, which will allow the juices to soak into the meat and moisten it. Make sure the bird is thoroughly cooked throughout. It should be piping hot, there should be no pink where the meat is at its thickest, and when piercing the bird (usually at the thigh), the juices that run out should be clear.
When using the turkey for leftovers, don’t reheat more than once, refrain from storing any meat at the bottom of the fridge and never place against any uncooked meat. Visit stacyssnacks.com for more chef-worthy holiday recipes and pairings, or go to McCormick.com for delicious seasonal ideas.
* Family Features
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours, 10 minutes