10 Ways You Can Dis a Turkey

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We've all heard the stories: an entire family spent most of Thanksgiving at the ER barfing; a friend of a friend forgot to thaw the turkey before putting it in the oven; turkey breast meat that looked like hay; Uncle Fred kept staring at your cleavage. Next Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a horror story, these tips will dissolve all your worries.

10. Don't be stingy, share the wealth. Remember Thanksgiving is supposed to be feast, make sure you buy a turkey that is large enough for the hours and hours and days of eating to follow.

9. Not everything is good at room temperature. Never, ever thaw your turkey, or anyone else's for that matter, at room temperature. You can thaw it forever in the fridge, or speed things up in a water-filled sink.

8. Don't be naughty, keep it clean. If you're handling the turkey, stick to it before moving on to other dishes. At the very least, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands, tools and surfaces before moving on.

7. Don't put that in there. Really, I know Grandma Louise did, but the reality is that by the time you bring the stuffing's temperature to the appropriate point, the turkey's meat is likely overcooked. Just give brine a chance. If you absolutely can't bare unstuffed turkey dinner, then, whatever you do, don't stuff your turkey the night before. EVER.

6. Burning the midnight oil. Cooking turkey at a low temperature all night long, is a very bad idea. For one thing, you're likely to sleep through the buzzer. But worst, the internal temperature of the turkey may remain below the safe zone for too long and bad things could happen to your loved ones. Salmonella is no joke.

5. Cooked it once, good for you. Overcooked, shame on you.Dry, overcooked turkey may cause your dinner guests to fake a tryptophan-induced nap right there on the table. Use a thermometer for optimal results.

4. Give it a break! I know you're hungry and as impatient as me, but please, please let that turkey rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.

3. Put that axe down. That bird is already dead, there's no need for a massacre. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then imagine what this video will do for your carving skills.

2. Being at the bottom isn't a bad thing. Don't even think about throwing away the pan drippings. This is tantamount to a cardinal sin. The drippings hold the key to lots of flavor. Instead, scrape them up to make an out-of-this-world gravy.

1. Put your goodies away. Turkey meat, stuffing, gravy, green beans, whatever you just spent days preparing, should hit the fridge as soon as possible. Pack'em up and refrigerate after dinner.

The turkey is a noble bird, but it is also supposed to be delicious, so avoid these mistakes and you will have a lovely time. Sorry, I can't help you with Uncle Fred. Dude's just creepy.



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8 comments
Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

My family also threw a lasagna down on Thanksgiving, in addition to the bird.

MadMac
MadMac

See, that's what I'm talking about. I make shrimp and chile Fettucine. My brother-in-law one brings a Creole duck or stewed hen to die for, BIL two does gumbo, my sister-in-law one does brisket and SIL two bakes a ham as well as the turkey.

MadMac
MadMac

I know we all eat this bird, (vegans excluded; respect!) 'cause we always have, or because it's a tradition, or because it's so healthy but does anyone really like this thing? Or is it just a way to torment a lot of people and/or demean your spouse, (well, you know dear, my mom/dad/dutch uncle's turkey was golden-er, juicier, a better dancer and a snappier dresser than yours)?

Before my mom was banned from cooking, (allegations of child abuse, probably by me) we suffered with this thing. I've dinned out and catered in and whether it's white table clothe or cardboard box, it taste the same. Bland and dry.

Even my wife's family (my family only celebrates early release/parole days) puts one of these things on the table and NO ONE wants it. The brisket is mauled, the ham is massacred like a Corleone, and even the game is done in before anyone looks at this bird. But then everyone thinly slices at this turkey, (invective form) to take for some mythical left-over banquet never to be discussed.

Anamaris Cousins
Anamaris Cousins

I agree with you that bad turkey is one of the worst things that can be done to unsuspecting humans. I've been brining my turkeys for over 10 years and have yet to serve a dry, flavorless one. I've never attempted the fried version, mostly because of your same safety concerns and those William Shatner ads are NOT helping.

Being from Latin America, I always bring some of my heritage to the Thanksgiving table and this year we'll my hubbz and I will have a duck instead. But I do love turkey, good turkey, I will run away screaming from all others. Happy Other Than Turkey Day to you!

MadMac
MadMac

AC, I like your idea of bringing heritage to the table. It's not an option for me as my family is Irish and we don't have a food tradition as much as a drinking tradition. In fact I only learned to cook because I thought my mom and sister were trying to kill me. If I ever thought about frying a turkey, (or getting a toupee) Shatner killed those ideas dead. 

Thankfully, my Mrs.'s family maintains their rich Creole food traditions and I actively dream about the TG table in Port Arthur. My BIL's roasted duck is fantastic. I haven't eaten corn-bread dressing in 10 years, ever since my SIL set the table with rice dressing, (dirty rice) and don't get me started on the gumbo and court bouillon.   

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Funny anecdotes. My family rarely ever has any turkey left after the initial turkey day. I think that is a direct correlation to our turkeys being fried as opposed to baked. We gave up baking over 15 years ago. Never fear the grease!TA

MadMac
MadMac

TA, I get you and I don't fear the grease as much as the clumsy, (me) or the inebriated, (my brothers-in-law) fumbling with hotter-than-Montrose grease and a 20lb bird intent on revenge. And really, I don't like the taste enough for 3rd-degree-burns.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I was watching the Food Network live Thanksgiving special and talk of defrosting the bird while in a brine was bandied about. I thought it was an interesting idea.

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