It’s finally November, and that means the bird is, in fact, the word—especially at Diestel Family Ranch. Weeks from now, you’ll be digging into a sweet and savory smorgasbord of meaty, meaty goodness. But today we’re going to cover what comes before it: how to prep and roast your turkey like you’re getting paid to do it. (Does having guests bring alcohol and fancy cheeses count as payment? If so, all the better.) Here are five ways to set yourself up for success… and a whole lot less stress all month long.
When in doubt about how to cook your turkey… remember what those glam bands taught you: keep it simple, stupid. Think of it like Occam’s carving knife: the simplest method to roast a turkey is probably the best method. Check out the Diestel Family recipe. It’s easy—so easy—and hey, you can blame our family if it doesn’t turn out. (But don’t worry—it will. We’ve been doing this for decades.)
If you’re going to get crazy with the recipes this year, I tip my hat to you… and offer just one recommendation: practice, practice, practice! Whatever you do—brine, butter, or lather your turkey in bacon grease—practice on a test bird to fine tune your poultry prowess for the big bird day. On top of ironing out the kinks, you’ll get lots of delicious turkey leftovers.
There’s nothing more important than the temperature of your turkey come roasting day. I’ll say again for the folks in the back: temperature is everything. Make sure your turkey is soft and oven ready on the day you’re roasting. Nothing ruins a turkey faster than putting it into the oven frozen.
“Okay, Heidi,” you’re saying to yourself quietly at your keyboard, “I’ll bite. What’s so wrong about putting a frozen bird in the oven? Isn’t this America?”
It’s not a question of patriotism. A frozen bird thaws while it cooks, releasing its moisture into the oven (rather than keeping it locked inside the bird). Cook-in-bags are specifically intended to combat this loss of moisture. But with a little know-how (and a little patience), you can easily avoid a little petrified poultry.
If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s that trust is the basis of a solid relationship. It’s especially true with your meat thermometer. Knowing you can rely on this pointy piece of metal to tell you the truth is key. It may not be able to tell you when you’ve got a speck of spinach stuck in your teeth, but it can make or break you nailing the 5°F window that makes turkey really sing.
Rest makes us all better, and your turkey is no exception. (I’ll probably put “I’d rather be napping” on my tombstone.) Before carving into your massive meat morsel, give it a minimum of 30 minutes to rest on the counter under a tent of tin foil. This gives the meat time to let all that moist moisture seep back in, which—lucky for you—equates to a moister mouthful.
Q: What’s the most important thing about your turkey on the big day?
Stay cool, but not too cool on roasting day(!)
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