How to Prep Your Turkey for the Holidays

Oven Baked Seasoned Turkey

There is a reason why the nation buys a total of 90 million turkeys every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. People really like it and won’t break tradition no matter what. Meat By The Case Meat Market (MBC) wants to make sure that those who prepare it, do it properly.

Before you begin the process of preparing a turkey, you need to get an idea of how big a turkey you need. Yes, you want some leftovers, but you don’t so much that you’ll never eat all of it. That’s just wasting your money. If you want it all gone, add one pound for every person. For leftovers, knock that up to 1 ½ pounds per guest. This formula accounts for bone weight, so it’s not just  a solid pound of meat. Consider roasting two smaller turkeys for big crowds. It will be a huge timesaver.

If you choose a frozen turkey, you’re going to need some significant thawing time. The best way to approach this is with a slow thaw in the fridge, which takes about two days per 10 pounds of bird. You can also thaw it in cool water, which cuts thawing time to five hours for every 10 pounds of bird. To be safe, you need to make sure there is no air in your bag and change the cold water every 30 minutes. Never set your turkey out overnight to thaw. Anything less than above is asking for bacteria.

Brining your turkey can also help with flavor. A quick online search will bring up dozens of recipes, so pick the flavor that’s most appealing to your family. Soak the bird in the brine for 8-24 hours and keep it refrigerated the entire time.

Before you pop your turkey in the oven, there’s the question of stuffing the bird. Should you stuff it? Yes, but don’t stuff it with stuffing. The risk of harmful bacteria getting into the bread is too high to make it worth it. Instead, stuff it with items that will add flavor and not be eaten. Lemon, onion, herbs, and spices are the best thing for that cavity.

When it comes to cooking there are steps that will help your roasting go smoother:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, pop in the turkey, then drop the temperature to 350 degrees
  • Rub the turkey with olive oil or melted clarified butter
  • Invest in a quality oven pan or a roaster
  • Figure on a cook time of about 13 minutes per pound, but don’t pull it out until the internal temperature reaches at least 180 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh

There are alternative methods to preparing a turkey beyond the oven. If you have the time, smoking a turkey can be a great way to add flavor to the meat. Put the turkey in a disposable pan, stuff it the same as you would the oven turkey, loosely cover with foil. You can add flavor to the smoke, also, for an extra boost. Smoking is a slow and low process that takes time. You’ll need to calculate 40 minutes per pound of turkey in a smoker at 225-250 degrees. Baste the turkey with pan drippings every couple of hours.

Deep frying turkey is another option, and the most important thing to remember is DO NOT fry a turkey indoors. Make sure it’s outside on a level surface. This method is quick – about 45 minutes for the bird, but it is also risky and costly. Make sure your pot is big enough for the turkey. Place it in your empty pot and fill it with water. The water should barely cover the turkey and should be at least five inches from the top for safety. Now lift the turkey out of the pot. The amount of water is the pot is the amount of oil you’ll need. Heat the oil to 350 degrees and drop the turkey in very slowly. If you go too fast you risk splashing oil, starting a fire, and severe injury. Always deep fry with extreme caution.

Whatever you choose to cook, Meat By The Case Meat Market can help you find what you need for a successful holiday dinner. We offer a wide variety of meats for your family that can be delivered to your door, saving you time and money.