When it comes to a successful Thanksgiving dinner, being prepared is half the battle. With these quick turkey fixes up your sleeve, you’ll be feeling calm, cool and collected, no matter what surprises the day may bring.
Use a cold water bath to defrost the turkey.
If you’ve cut things too close and your turkey is still not defrosted on Thanksgiving morning, you can defrost it in a cold water bath. This method safely defrosts a bird in as little as 30 minutes per pound. Fill a large bowl with cold water (it must be below 40 degrees F), tightly wrap the turkey in plastic and submerge. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it remains cold and rotate the turkey so that it defrosts evenly.
Avoid an unevenly cooked bird.
Some easy ways to avoid dry white meat include brining, adding fat to the breast meat by placing pats of butter under the skin or covering the breast meat with greased foil until the last 40 minutes of cooking time. If, on the other hand, the white meat is done and the dark meat is still too pink, cut off the legs and thighs and return them to the oven for further cooking while the white meat rests.
Brown the turkey all over.
Resist the urge to raise the oven temperature if the turkey is not browning properly. This may just dry out the meat. Instead, try brushing the skin with a mixture of honey and melted butter; the sugars will help brown the skin.
Add flavor to a bland turkey.
Turkey needs to be generously seasoned. But if the meat is still under-seasoned after cooking, carve the turkey and place the slices on a serving platter. Sprinkle all over with sea salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. And be sure to properly season the gravy.
Supplement turkey juices.
Add a good-quality chicken broth to the turkey juices in the roasting pan. Or pour in some white wine. These will help scrape up stuck-on pieces of meat and skin, which is where you’ll find that great concentrated turkey flavor. Be sure to cook the wine off by at least half so that the gravy doesn’t end up tasting like alcohol.