We all remember our first time… to cook a turkey, that is!  I lost my turkey-ginity in 1999.  And oh, boy, was it a disaster.

Picture, if you will, 14 people in a 1200 square-foot condo, with no apps and plenty of vodka, waiting for a 20lb bird to cook in a 30-year-old oven with only one working element.

Did I say disaster?  I meant armageddon.

By 5 pm, with a mostly raw bird and a sotted family on the verge of an epic Southern brawl, I concocted a dip made mostly of potted ham from our emergency/earthquake kit and threw it, along with some stale crackers from the back of my pantry, onto the coffee table.  It was positively Dracula-esque. Carrion birds descending on a kill.

Eventually, my father-in-law sloshed over with an inelegant, if timely, solution to end what everyone was calling “the great turkey embargo.”

“Nuke it,” he said.

“Bingo!” I said. So I cut that turkey up and zapped it.

Finally, at 7:30, we sat down to a mummified turkey-jerky that we ate with the delight of refugees. And all was right with the world.

I share this pitiful tale because I want to help all of you.  Learn from my mistakes, dear friends, and heed these chicken-nuggets I’ve learned in the turkey-trenches.

5 Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

  • A smaller, unstuffed turkey cooks faster and uses less energy, no matter how you cook it. Plan extra time to get the turkey ready for the oven, and to let it rest when it comes out of the oven. This is paramount for your sanity and your guests’ hungry bellies.
  • Choose sides that can cook along with the turkey. It saves time and energy. Plus, everything will be ready at the same time, so you’re not waiting for the rolls to come out of the oven before you can serve dinner.
  • Brining is usually unnecessary, so save the water. Coat your bird with olive oil or butter prior to roasting and you’ll have a crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside bird without brining.
  • Choose a fresh, organic turkey over a frozen one. It’ll taste better. You may pay a bit more per pound, but you’ll ultimately get more actual meat since it won’t be puffed up with the salt water solution that processed turkeys get.
  • Always, always have a back up plan in case of a turkey disaster.

Tom Casey
Amy Clark
Angelika Torres
Anthony Zolezzi
Chelsea Vurciaga
Dave Carter
Elizabeth Chatellier, MA, RDN
Linda Bonvie
Liz Latham
Sebrina Zerkus Smith
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