Clever Ways To Cook A Truly Tasty Turkey

We all have a favorite Thanksgiving dish; for some this super-indulgent meal is all about the stuffing, while others can't get enough of the cranberry sauce. Some pace themselves the holiday spread so that they can indulge in a slice of creamy pumpkin pie topped with a generous scoop of freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. But across all palates, there is one thing that seems to be universally agreed upon when it comes to a traditional Thanksgiving meal: the turkey (the centerpiece of this bountiful meal) should be juicy and flavorful.

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Turkey is a tricky bird to roast. It can be difficult because of its size (a 24-pound turkey can be tough to work with when it comes to flavor- and texture-enhancing techniques like brining), because of its variable cook time (the weight of the bird, whether or not you choose to stuff it, and whether or not you choose to truss it will all affect the length of time it needs in the oven), or because a number of things need to be cooked in your oven simultaneously on Thanksgiving day (turning the heat up may make it easier to multi-task in the oven and cook multiple things at once, but higher temperatures can cause the turkey to dry out).

But before you give up on the idea of a juicy and flavorful Thanksgiving turkey, consider trying a few tricks to enhance the bird's flavor and texture; simple substitutions or alterations in technique can have a big impact on the finished turkey. Whether you're more traditional in your taste or ready to try something new, a little bit of science, creative thinking, and a few well-crafted recipes can help you roast an amazingly delicious and flavorful Thanksgiving turkey.

Choose Your Bird Carefully

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If you have the option of buying a fresh turkey from a local producer or farm, do it; you'll start with a bird that is inherently more flavorful. Freezing a turkey impacts its flavor and texture, so skip the grocery store turkey if possible.

Consider Brining

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Whether you immerse your turkey into a salt-water solution or simply rub it with salt, the addition of salt will help make the turkey moist and flavorful (salt draws the juices out of the turkey and then allows them to be reabsorbed along with the flavorings you have added).

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Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.