If you’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey before, it can be totally overwhelming. And let’s be honest here, if you’ve cooked one every year for twenty years, it can still be totally overwhelming. With the turkey as the centerpiece of your feast and tablescape, it’s easy to see why. Everyone wants a flavorful, perfectly roasted, moist turkey, and there’s always some recipe that claims to be the best. You may know about brining, about using the weight of the turkey to decide the roasting time, but the one thing you don’t know about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey?
You don’t need to baste it.
I know! You’ve been told your whole life to baste the turkey so the meat will be flavored. But according to Alton Brown, this is a definite don’t. In an interview with NPR, the Food Network star noted that although basting flavors the skin, the constant opening and closing of the oven to do it means your turkey is going to be in there longer to reach the right temperature. And the longer the turkey is in the oven, the more dried out it becomes. Even Butterball, the turkey masters, suggest skipping the basting. So toss that baster aside and try one of these three ways to ensure a flavorful bird.
1. Brine Your Turkey
Brining includes submerging your turkey, before cooking, in a salty liquid solution. You can try making your own or buying a ready-made brine, but all of them will keep your meat flavorful and moist beyond comprehension. Do not skip brining if you want a moist, perfect turkey.
2. Coat With Butter Or Oil
Food Network suggests drying the skin of your and then coating it with butter or oil. You can also slip some slabs of butter up under the turkey skin for extra flavor.
3. Loosely Pack The Bird With Herbs
Food expert Alton Brown wrote in Bon Appetit that the cavity of the bird is meant to be packed loosely with an onion, a couple of chopped carrots and stalks of celery, and a combination of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage. These flavors will infuse the meat, making it packed full of great flavors.