The idea behind this Thanksgiving survival guide is not intended to help you survive your in-laws or your unwanted visitors but to guide you with safety tips for an stress-free thanksgiving dinner to remember for years to come.
Thanksgiving holiday is about abundance, but with 30% price increased in groceries this year, a lot of Americans will have to become creative in the kitchen. Potluck can be a great idea to reduce cost for this feast, but don’t you fret over small details and look at the big picture! Even if it’s your first time cooking a thanksgiving dinner, there are ways to make a healthy and delicious thanksgiving dinner without breaking your wallet.
Here’s some very successful tips for a smooth thanksgiving dinner:
- Plan ahead
- Designed a menu and guest list
- Have a shopping list ready at least 4 days before thanksgiving
- Give yourself enough time to shop around for the cheapest turkey/ingredients
- Clean the fridge and make space for all the stuff you’ll need to refrigerate (cranberry sauce, pies and breads)
- Get your turkey at least 3 days before the thanksgiving dinner to properly thaw it out
- A frozen turkey will be cheaper than a fresh or free-range one
- You’ll also need a meat thermometer to gauge when the turkey is fully cooked
- The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator (24 hrs per every 5 pound of turkey)
- Never defrost a turkey at room temperature since bacteria breed and multiply at room temperature
- Follow your turkey cooking instructions
- Cook your stuffing outside the bird to avoid cross-contamination
Approximate Roasting Times for un-stuffed Turkey
Roasted at 325° F oven temperature:
- 6 to 8 lbs. — 2 to 2¾ hrs
- 8 to 12 lbs. — 2¾ to 3 hrs
- 12 to 14 lbs. — 3 to 3¾ hrs
- 14 to 18 lbs. — 3¾ to 4¼ hrs
- 18 to 20 lbs. — 4¼ to 4½ hrs
- 20 to 24 lbs. — 4½ to 5 hrs
How can I confirm when my turkey is done?
The safest way is when the thermometer reaches 180 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. Most turkey now come with a pop-up thermometer that will let you know when is ready. In addition, make sure to follow the roasting time whether your bird is stuffed or un-stuffed and confirm temperature with thermometer. You’ll also need a sharp knife to carve it.
Let’s talk about Brining:
For a juicy tender Turkey, I’ll recommend brining also known as salting. Brining is a marinate where you completely submerge your bird in salted water and other spices of your choice such as garlic, lime, anise star, bay leave etc. for over 24 hours depending on the size and weight of the turkey. Salted water changes the structure of the muscles tissue in the meat allowing it to swell and better absorb flavors. The basic brining ratio is 1 cup of salt per gallon of water. Brining can be easily done in a cooler if you don’t have a big enough container. Your container or cooler does not fit in the fridge? just remember to add ice in a sealed plastic bag to keep it cold during the minimum 24 brining process. Now it’s time to decide how will you cook your bird:
Oven Roast or Deep-fried? The traditional easiest way to cook a turkey is oven-roast, but if you decide to deep-fried your bird, make sure to do it outdoors to avoid fire. Deep-frying a turkey can be a very dangerous endeavor if you are new to this process, use caution!
You can make delicious and healthy side dishes to compliment your turkey. A good rules of thumb to follow is; dark vegetables over white ones. for instance if you’re making a potato dish try to use Purple or red instead of white potato. Another thing to keep in mind is try making your own sauces and pies from fresh fruits and vegetables instead of cans or already made ones which the main ingredient is sugar, in addition to a host of other unhealthy chemicals to preserve it and keep it fresh.
Happy delicious and nutritious Thanksgiving to all.