A Thanksgiving Turkey Refresher

October 1, 2020

winters familyDarrel Winter and Corinne Dahm have been raising free range turkeys in the small hamlet of Dalemead, 20 minutes south of Calgary, since 1977, in the same house Darrel grew up in. Always active in their community and involved with local food events, if anyone knows how to cook a turkey, it’s Darrel and Corinne—for them, turkey leftovers come into play more than once or twice a year. At Thanksgiving, they bring the wagon out to their impressive garden and harvest carrots, beets, broccoli, potatoes. 

Of course one of the best features of a roast turkey are the leftovers - Darrel and Corinne wrap theirs up in flatbread with cheese, greens and peppers for an easy lunch while they work, stir chopped roasted turkey into jambalaya with smoky chorizo sausage, and of course the carcass makes great stock.

For those of us who don’t roast turkeys quite as often, here’s a refresher from the pros. 

Thawing: To quickly thaw a frozen turkey, place it (still wrapped) in a sink or a large Tupperware container and cover completely with cold water. Allow 1 hour per pound of turkey (2 hours per kg). Otherwise sit it in a pan in the refrigerator and allow 5 hours per pound (10 hours per kg) of turkey - keep in mind that a 20 pound turkey will take about 4 days to thaw. 

Stuffing: Spoon stuffing loosely into the cavity of the bird just before roasting; never pack it tight or stuff your turkey the day before. When you’re ready to eat, remove the stuffing before carving. 

turkey dinner harvestSeasoning: Place the bird breast side up on a rack in roasting pan, pat dry with a paper towel and rub the skin with soft butter or canola oil. Season the skin and inside the cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, thyme, rosemary or your favourite herbs and spices. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful to not touch the bone. 

Roasting: Cover loosely with foil or a lid and roast in a preheated 325° oven - the general rule of thumb for oven cooking a stuffed turkey at 325° F is 15 minutes per pound (30 minutes per kg). If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven - once an hour is sufficient.  Begin checking for doneness about one hour before the end of the recommended roasting time, and keep in mind that fresh turkeys cook faster. Uncover about an hour before the end of the cooking time for crispy, golden skin. Your turkey is done with a meat thermometer inserted into meaty part of the inner thigh reads 180° F for a stuffed turkey or 170° F for an unstuffed turkey - temperature is the best indication of doneness, as the juices may still have a slight pink tinge. 

Resting: Cover your turkey loosely with foil and let it stand for at least 15 minutes - this will help retain its juices, keeping the meat tender and easier to carve.

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