Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so we’re sharing some last-minute tips to make Thanksgiving easy, more delicious, and less stressful. A high-quality roasting pan is a Thanksgiving essential. Turkeys are heavy, and you need a sturdy pan (not disposable foil) to move a hot turkey around the kitchen safely and ensure that it cooks evenly. You’ll be able to use it year-round as a kitchen staple. We often use our roaster for Christmas dinner and other parties, especially when we want to make a large roast or porchetta, and you can also use it to roast vegetables.
Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner does not have to be stressful and we are huge proponents of keeping things simple. There’s so much needless stress around cooking a turkey, and we get tired of seeing articles on how to cook a turkey from frozen, how to cook a turkey overnight, how to deep fry a turkey, etc. A few years ago, Shelley Lindgren shared this video from Mary Risley on Facebook and it’s become our preferred approach. To test out our new roaster, we made the turkey exactly as directed in the video, and had everything done (turkey, cranberries, and gravy) within 3 hours from start to finish. Most of that time was spent doing other things (work, laundry, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound at 350ºF (this one was 12 pounds).
Some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes include Cranberry and Pear Crisp, Parker Rolls, New England Spicy Stuffing, Cranberry Tart, Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, Italian Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower Gratin, and Roasted Squash Soup.
If you have time, we do recommend brining your bird. We’ve done a side-by-side comparison (Fresh Pre-Brined and Unbrined Willie Bird Turkeys), and it was definitely our experience that the brined turkey stays moister and generally tastes better. There is a basis in science for it. We think the best turkey brine is the brine used for Thomas Keller’s fried chicken, which you can find in his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. We recommend getting a brine bag and using a box or large container to keep the turkey in the brine for 24 hours. You can also clean out the lowest drawer in your refrigerator and put the brine bag in there. To finish the turkey, just pull it out of the brine, dry it with paper towels, then cook as directed in the video.
Thanksgiving should be a time to enjoy the company of family, friends, and wine. Don’t overthink it! Just put the…turkey in the oven!