With over 30 years of cooking experience, Big Poppa knows a thing or two when it comes to Thanksgiving turkey.
Read below for his top tips for moist, flavorful turkey.
Be sure to check out his 2019 Turkey recipe for guaranteed Thanksgiving success!
Big Poppa’s Turkey Tips (photos below!):
- Need to feed a crowd? Cook two smaller turkeys instead of one big one (like 2 x 12lb turkeys, or 15lbs max). By the time a big turkey is done cooking at the bone, the meat near the skin is overcooked! Younger (smaller) birds are more tender too!
- DO NOT USE A ROASTING PAN. The temperature of the roasting pan at the bottom is sometimes 80 degrees less than the top. Ever notice that the skin is perfect on the top, and a mess on the bottom? This means the bottom wasn’t roasted. Use a baking sheet with foil lining for easy clean up and a roasting rack for ease of handling… but more importantly, to improve the circulation while the bird cooks.
- Rest your meat. Twenty minutes. Then carve when the time is right (see below).
- DO NOT CARVE your turkey until all sides/everything is done. This includes aunt Mildred’s jello mold, uncle Larry’s chesnuts, and your niece’s green bean casserole. This should be the LAST thing you do before serving.
- Carve it right. Do not slice it like your dad (or uncle, or aunt, or Mom, etc) did with the grain while the breast is attached to the bird. Remove the legs and wings. Slice along the length of the bird to remove the breasts (along the top down) and then cut the bottom off giving you what looks like the shape of a boneless chicken breast – and then slice against the grain. Pics below!
- Put your turkey 3rd in line in the buffet – if you put it first, people’s eyes are bigger than their stomach and plate.
- Make your stuffing in a crock pot, oven roasting bag, or Pyrex – Don’t stuff a smoked bird – this is no bueno as far as bacteria and food safety goes. Be adventurous and play with different kinds of stuffing; sourdough, corn bread, mix up your sausages and flavors… you can always make another traditional one!
- Spatchcocking is a wonderful way to cook your turkey in less time, while having delicious skin and moist, tender breast meat.
- Checking for internal temp: probe in the top of the breast, horizontally, in the deepest part of the turkey – make sure you steer clear of the bone though!
- Compound butter (butter + seasoning) rubbed under the skin and all over the exposed parts of the bird will give it great flavor and a nice skin! For Thanksgiving 2019, Big Poppa used his Desert Gold seasoning in his compound butter.
Check out the full recipe here!