Thursday is Thanksgiving, but it’s not too late to plan a big meal.
Turkey is a traditional centerpiece, and just a few key tips will ensure it turns out perfect.
Find the turkey
This should be the easy part – they’re everywhere. Look for organic birds that have been allowed to roam freely and are free of chemicals or added hormones. It’s worth spending a little more for quality.
If you’re cooking for a smaller group or have a small kitchen or oven, you might want to consider a bone-in turkey breast. It’s easier to cook and doesn’t take up as much space.
You can defrost it by immersing it in its original packaging in cold water, refreshing the water about every 20 minutes until it reaches a temperature of about 40 to 45 degrees.
Buy a thermometer
A metal meat thermometer will ensure your bird is cooked to the right temperature and you won’t be sick on Black Friday.
Insert it into the thickest part of the meat – usually one of the thighs – about three inches deep and read it after one to two minutes to make sure it has reached 165 F before serving.
You still have time to complete this crucial step. Dip the turkey in water with salt, lemon and a little garlic and place in the fridge.
This will help keep the meat moist while cooking.
You can keep it simple and put some peeled and chopped apples, carrots and onions in the turkey after removing the giblets, leaving enough room for hot air to circulate.
Instead, cook your traditional stuffing on the side and it will turn out nice and crispy. Gordon Ramsay suggests rubbing the turkey at this point with herb butter – mixed with chopped garlic, parsley and bay leaves – which should be rubbed under the skin.
Make sure the bird is at room temperature, preheat the oven and start cooking.
A simple rule of thumb is 15-20 minutes of cooking time per pound, at around 325 F, but this will depend on your oven.
For an hour or more for larger birds, then slice and serve.
Sort the sides
Turkey is the main event, but on Thanksgiving it’s the supporting cast that matters.
We’ve got the best mashed potato recipes, three different cranberry sauce recipes, great variations on the humble Brussels sprouts and the perfect turkey sauce.
Make sure you serve the perfect wine for the feast. Oh, and if vegan guests come over or you’re just sick of turkey, we’ve got you covered here.
And if you’re not hunting for Black Friday bargains, here are some good ideas on how to make the most of leftovers.