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Thanksgiving prep tips

12 Last Minute Turkey Prep Tips

If you are like me and are preparing the Thanksgiving bird this year, you may be on the hunt for Thanksgiving Turkey cooking tips! I found some and curated the best from around the web including from Food Network, IB Business, Martha Stewart and Fine Cooking and I’m sharing them here with you! Good luck!

When calculating your roasting time, plan on about 15 minutes per pound.

1. By now you should have completely thawed  your bird, but if you were last minute and didn’t you can cook a frozen turkey by following the tips at Epicurious here.

2. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.

3. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).

4. If stuffing the turkey, do so just before roasting to prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Because the stuffing will expand as it bakes, fill the turkey’s cavity loosely; this also allows the stuffing to cook more evenly and keeps it from becoming too dense. A 12- to 15-pound turkey needs about 10 cups of stuffing; a 15- to 20-pound bird can hold up to 12 cups.

5. To keep it moist, pour about a half cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and place the turkey breast side up into the pan.

6. Once your oven pre-heats to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (the minimum temperature is 325 degrees Fahrenheit), you can put it into the oven. Halfway through cooking, take your turkey out of the oven and cover the most exposed areas, such as the legs, in tin foil to keep them from drying out.

7.  Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you’re only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.

8. If the bird is browning quickly but not near its target doneness temperature of 170°F, tent it loosely with foil and continue roasting. If the drippings seem to be getting too dark, add a couple tablespoons of water to keep them from burning.

9. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

10. Remove the turkey from the oven and use an instant-read thermometer to determine temperature; it should read 165 degrees F at the thigh when it’s done. If you stuff your turkey, check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well; it should be at least 165 degrees.

11. Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 25 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.

12. The intense heat of the oven forces the juices into the center of the bird, so after roasting, let the turkey rest for roughly 20 minutes. The juices will redistribute, and you’ll get moister slices.

Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife and ENJOY!