(StatePoint) Selecting, preparing and cooking the centerpiece of your family’s Thanksgiving meal can pile on a lot of stress. However, there are some easy ways to simplify the process.
“There are a lot of great choices, but they can certainly be overwhelming during a busy holiday,” says Theo Weening, Global Meat Buyer for Whole Foods Market.
Here are seven basic rules to ensure you have the perfect turkey for your holiday meal.
1. Plan ahead: Frozen turkeys can take several days to fully thaw. The safest method is to place it on a tray in its packaging to catch drips, and then put it in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf. Plan for one full day of thawing for every five pounds of turkey. If you’re short on time, put your turkey in a leak-proof wrapper and submerge it completely in cold tap water. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. Plan for 30 minutes of thawing time per pound.
2. Research: There are many different types of turkey to choose from. Some grocers carry a variety of birds and additionally have in-house butcher experts behind the counter to help you choose what is right for your taste and budget. Here are the five types of turkey found at Whole Foods Market:
• Organic: fed organic feed (that means no GMOs, among other things) and given access to the outdoors.
• Classic: known for their trifecta of flavor, quality and value.
• Heritage: rich, succulent, old-world breeds cherished for flavor.
• Heirloom: robust flavor with a higher percentage of dark meat.
• Kosher: certified kosher.
3. Size matters: A general rule is to buy 1.5 pounds of turkey per person, providing everyone a healthy portion while allowing for those sought-after leftovers.
4. Read the label: The best birds are raised with the highest standards. This means no antibiotics, no animal byproducts in their feed, no added solutions or injections and no added growth hormones. To make it simple, shop at a store that carries only turkeys raised with these standards, such as Whole Foods Market. Their turkeys are also 5-Step Animal Welfare rated.
5. Brine: Soaking turkey in a saltwater solution for four to 24 hours before roasting keeps it tender and juicy. Try a brine kit for a simple and easy recipe.
6. Time it: It takes approximately 13 minutes per pound to cook a turkey at 350 degrees, and the turkey is done once it reaches 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer, and insert it into the thickest part of the thigh (without hitting the bone) to test the temperature.
7. Rest: Wait 30 minutes before carving the turkey. Giving the turkey time to rest allows the juices to redistribute for better flavor.
More turkey tips are available at wholefoodsmarket.com/turkey.
When it comes to choosing and cooking your holiday turkey, preparation is key. Do your research, know what you like and enjoy the rest.