Thanksgiving Turkey 101

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Lets talk Thanksgiving Turkey! Regardless if we're making a full Roasted Turkey, a Roasted Turkey Breast or even Turkey Meatballs, we've got a little something for everyone in the Turkey world as we roll deeper in Thanksgiving.

Gaby standing at a table holding a cooked Thanksgiving turkey.  The table has a full thanksgiving spread of wine , plates, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.


Traditional Roasted Turkey

If we're going OG - let's talk about a Roasted Turkey. Make sure to brine it for max flavor!

For this turkey recipe I like to start my oven at 450 degrees F to crisp up the skin and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees to continue cooking the bird until done.

If you need to crisp up the skin a bit at the end, you can crank up the heat to 450 again for the last 10-15 minutes to get it a bit more crispy.

Turkeys need about 15-18 minutes of cooking time per pound. Once the bird is cooked, thighs should register at 165°F (74°C) and the breasts should register at 160°F (71°C). As soon as the bird hits these temperatures, take it out and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

Turkey for 2-4 people

If you're entertaining a smaller crowd, going solo, or just cooking for 2-4 people... a Roasted Turkey Breast might be a bit easier than a full bird.

Still be sure to brine the breast! And if you opt for a wet brine, you won't need as big of a vessel to store the turkey in so it's an overall win! You can reduce the water in the wet brine by ½.

A turkey breast takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours and takes up less space in your oven - so that's a major win.

Roasted Turkey Breast from (@whatsgabycookin)

How to Spatchcock your Turkey

If you want to cut down on oven time - consider Spatchcocking your bird! Spatchcocking a bird is in its simplest is when you remove the backbone (essentially a butterflied turkey) and basically flatten the bird so it roasts MUCH MUCH faster. You'll need a big sheet pan or roasting pan to accommodate the bird but you can thank me later when your turkey is done in just over an hour!

Something other than roasted turkey

If you're wanting to skip a roasted Turkey and you want something that's more out of the box (this is what we're making) Turkey Meatballs are about to be the star of your show!

The base of the recipe is a mixture of ground turkey (you must use dark meat), some ground pork to give it some fat and extra flavor (yes you COULD omit if you wanted to or don't eat pork but it really adds some oomph) and tons of aromatics. Its the same flavorings you would use for a roasted turkey! You'll need a mirepoix of shallots, carrots and celery and tons of fresh herbs. You'll be adding some heavy cream, panko bread crumbs and lemon to the meat mixture to give it some crunch and moisture. Then the mixture gets scooped into balls and chilled for a few minutes to keep them in their perfect ball shape. Then you fry, followed by a braise... and then I can promise you you'll never make another recipe ever again!


What can I put in my turkey for flavor?

You can put a variety of ingredients in your turkey to add flavor, such as:
- Butter or ghee
- Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage
- Garlic cloves
- Citrus fruits like lemon, orange, or lime
- Onions or shallots
- Spices like paprika, or cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper too, obviously!

Is it best to cook a turkey covered or uncovered?

It is best to cook a turkey covered for the majority of the cooking time to retain moisture. However, uncovering the turkey during the first or last 30 minutes to an hour will help to brown the skin.

How long does it take to cook a turkey at 325?

It typically takes about 15 minutes per pound to cook a turkey at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the cooking time may vary depending on the size of the turkey and whether it is stuffed or unstuffed. It is recommended to use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the thigh.

Delicious Turkey Alternatives

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