Order your turkey far enough in advance to make sure you get a fresh, rather than frozen, bird. Buy it from someone whom you trust, as lying about whether a bird has ever been frozen is common. It makes sense to buy a bird that's larger than you need so you'll have plenty left over for sandwiches, creamed turkey, soup, and the like. Take the bird out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before it is scheduled to go in the oven. A room-temperature turkey will roast more quickly and evenly.
If the broth and giblets were prepared in advance, bring them to room temperature before making the gravy. If you’re using a brined turkey, please taste the gravy before adding any additional salt.
Click here to see The Ultimate Thanksgiving Countdown: Getting Saucy.
I will, as I always do, cook duck for Thanksgiving. The reason is the fat. A duck may look slimmer, but when cooked it rarely dries out, while a turkey that’s leaner often does. To choose a leaner meat may be a good idea in general, but I definitely prefer something tastier.
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If you think the duck renders too much fat while baking, I suggest you spoon off the overflow for use in other treats. Potatoes fried in duck fat are heavenly and a duck-fat omelette is marvelous. When done right, duck fat even stores really well.
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I also recommend using all the parts that come with it. The liver can be chopped up and sautéed with shallots, coriander, and cumin or seasoned with lime and cilantro for a perfect appetizer. The neck (and head and feet) and rest of the giblets make a great base for a stock (see below). This week’s recipe is my own creation, but I learned the baking method from both my mother and Elizabeth David (French Provincial Cooking, 1960). Happy Thanksgiving. — Johanna Kindvall
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The pinnacle of the Thanksgiving meal is, of course, the turkey — and we want to make sure that you are fully equipped and prepared to cook it just right. Don’t get wrapped up in Turkey Day chaos. Take a deep breath, relax, and follow this easy recipe to cook a juicy and moist turkey.
For more turkey talk, head over to The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving.
"I feel that canned or packaged 'broth' is not an acceptable substitute for homemade stock… ," wrote Joe Gracey in offering this recipe, "because those products tend to be full of MSG, salt, [and] false and even bizarre ingredients that do more harm than good to the final result… I… make constant use of French-style classic stocks in my cooking, but this one has fewer ingredients and a more straightforward flavor. A classic French stock would add celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, and bay, and the meat would be roasted first to brown it. This Mexican-style broth uses fewer ingredients and leaves more room on the palette to color the final dish. When you taste this broth, it will seem very delicate, almost a non-flavor, but it marries with the other ingredients to create a glorious end result."
The secret to this exceptional bird is an old-fashioned, inexpensive, enameled metal oval roaster with a lid, found in most supermarkets. It simultaneously roasts and braises the turkey, so the meat stays moist even as it cooks quickly. Uncover the pan at the end to crisp the skin.
This recipe has been adapted from the 2011 Gourmet Live Holiday Special Edition.
Manna, a 24-hour Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant that is just down the street from my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, makes great traditional dishes like okra hummus and stuffed grape leaves — but my favorite by far is their roasted chicken with turmeric-scented couscous. It's a dish that should be on everyone's weeknight to-do list.
Click here to see 'Sweet' Cooking Advice from Sam Talbot.