Hey host, are you nervous about prepping that 12-pound Thanksgiving turkey? Don’t be. The beauty of bird baking is how truly simple it is once you get the basics down. This month, we pulled those must-know turkey tips from a true classic cookbook, now in its 16th edition—the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (HMH, 2014). This new edition offers more than 1,200 recipes, 800 new photos and a new chapter just for their best-ever holiday favorites. Naturally, this is the chapter we tapped for the following fool-proof turkey advice and timeless roasted turkey recipe.
1. Butter It
Applying butter rub between the meat and skin flavors the meat instead of just the skin. To loosen skin, work your fingers between skin and meat on breast as far as you can. Lift skin to rub butter on as much of meat as you can reach. Pull skin back over breast meat.
2. Stuff It
If you choose to stuff the turkey, first pat the cavity dry with paper towels. Spoon the stuffing loosely into the body cavity of the turkey. Do not pack the stuffing in. Allow adequate air circulation so the stuffing cooks evenly and reaches a safe temperature at the same time as the turkey meat. (Bake any extra stuffing in a dish.)
3. Tie It
Use kitchen string to tie the legs together. If the tail is still on the turkey, secure legs to the tail. Wrap the string around the legs and tail, pull it tight, and tie a knot.
4. Tuck It
Tuck the wing tips behind the back. Tucking the wings and tying the legs keeps them tight and secure against the body of the turkey, creating a uniform shape. This also helps the turkey roast at an even rate and prevents burning.
5. Check It
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, turkey is safe to eat at 165°F. The Better Homes and Gardens’ Test Kitchen thought the bird looked and tasted better when roasted to 175°F deep in the thigh muscle. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh muscle, making sure the probe does not touch bone.