How to Roast Your Turkey, and Other Thanksgiving Tips for the Home Cook

In Episode 9 of Essential Cooking, Chef James Rigato, Ann Delisi, and Chef Molly Mitchell from Rose’s Fine Food share tips on cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year, but don’t let that stop you from going all out in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, or you’ll be in a much smaller group than usual, you can make your Thanksgiving meal memorable and delicious.

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Start with the Bird 

If you’re planning to make turkey the centerpiece of your meal, you’ll want to get it as soon as possible. COVID-19 has affected the supply chain, making sourcing a turkey more difficult to find than in past years. While supermarket chains might be your usual go-to, Chef James Rigato recommends finding locally sourced birds if you are able.

If you’re having trouble finding a turkey, or are having a smaller gathering than usual, consider a smaller bird for the occasion; chicken, duck, and even pheasant are good turkey alternatives.

Brining and Roasting Your Turkey

For turkeys under 20 lbs., you’ll want to brine your thawed bird for 24 hours. If the temperature outside is less than 40 degrees, a sealed and sanitized container in the garage is perfect.

The ratio of your brine should be 1 gallon water : 1 cup salt : ½ cup sugar. 

You can also add other spices, herbs and seasonings tor flavor. Popular options are bay leaves, peppercorns, or garlic.

If you’re roasting your turkey, use a meat thermometer to ensure your bird is thoroughly cooked. When the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. The turkey continues to cook when it is resting.

Stuffing, Potatoes, and Pies… Oh My! 

Thanksgiving side dishes are as important as the bird! Make sure you save enough time and space in the oven for your favorite sides like mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. And of course, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without pie for dessert.

For Chef James Rigato’s tips on how to cook classic Thanksgiving sides, listen to Episode 9 of Essential Cooking with Ann Delisi on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

In this episode

  • How to brine and roast your turkey
  • Poultry alternatives for a smaller gathering
  • Why baking your stuffing in a dish is better than actually stuffing your bird
  • How to cook classic sides: Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and more
  • The secret to perfect mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Why you should save all of your trimmings to make broth

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  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.