When you plan a Thanksgiving Day dinner, you envision a perfectly browned, juicy turkey. But when it comes out dry, you wonder what went wrong. Because of the length of time it takes, it’s easy to cook a dry turkey. When you know all the tips and tricks, you’ll roast a moist turkey every time.
Choose the Right Baking Pan
You can cook a turkey in the oven, but it will be moister if you use a turkey roaster. If you don’t want to use a turkey roaster, you can still create one in the oven. Cover the turkey with heavy-duty foil, leaving just a small vent near the top of the foil. The steam the turkey makes hits the cover of the foil or lid for the turkey roaster and goes right back into the pan – and on top of the turkey. Using a cover also keeps more liquid in the pan so you can make turkey gravy.
Add a Little Water
Set the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan or turkey roaster. Add about 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan. Place the gizzards and neck in the bottom of the pan. They’ll help flavor the broth for the gravy.
The water creates steam to keep the turkey moist. It also catches any turkey drippings and gives you enough to make great turkey gravy.
Slather it With Butter
Before you put your favorite spices on the turkey, soften a stick of butter. Liberally spread it all over the turkey, then add your spices. The butter not only keeps a lot of the moisture in the turkey but also makes a crispy crust.
The Best Turkey Rub
Yes, we said ‘rub!’ Rubs are not only for beef and ribs. You can mix all the spices, or you can just sprinkle them on the top and sides of the turkey. A good mixture is salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (go a little heavier on the garlic powder than the other spices), poultry seasoning, and Badia redfish seasoning. The redfish seasoning gives it that little extra kick. It is a stronger spice so go a little lighter than the other spices when adding it to a mixture or sprinkling it directly on the turkey.
Cut Against the Grain
When carving the turkey, cut the whole breast off, then cut it against the grain. When you cut with the grain, which is what you do when you carve the breast while it is still on the turkey, the meat is tougher and can even be stringy.
If you like to take photos of Thanksgiving dinner, take the turkey out of the roasting pan and put it on the platter. Take your pictures, then move the turkey to a large cutting board – or have another platter ready. Cut the breasts along the breast bone. Put the whole breast on the cutting board, then slice it across the breast instead of lengthwise.
Remove the legs and thighs and set them next to the breast meat. Garnish the platter with stuffing and fresh parsley or other greens, and you have another photo op.