| Health |

Mayo Clinic Talks Turkey: 10 Tips for Choosing & Preparing a Thanksgiving Bird

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

We love Thanksgiving and its star -- the beloved turkey -- but making the perfect bird can be pretty intimidating.

But fear no more: Thanks to the gang over at the Mayo Clinic, everything Turkey Day -- from selection to serving -- has been demystified.

Check out these 10 Tips for Choosing & Preparing a Thanksgiving Bird (including an easy-to-follow carving video!):

1. Turkey Selection

For serving size, the rule of thumb is to allow at least one pound per person (if you like leftovers, choose a turkey that is a few lbs more than the number of people you are serving). Although a pound per person may seem like a lot, much of the weight comes from bones and fat that will be trimmed away.

2. Defrosting the Bird

Plan ahead. Keep the turkey fully frozen until you are ready to thaw (thawing time depends on method). To thaw in the refrigerator: Place the turkey on a tray in its original wrapper. Allow at least one full day for every four pounds of weight. For example: A 12-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw.

To thaw it in the sink: Place the wrapped turkey in a clean sink and cover with cold water. Allow 30 minutes for every pound and change the water every half hour.

3. Turkey Prep

Once thawed, remove giblets and rinse the turkey both inside and out with cold water. Trim any excess fat. The neck can be roasted with the bird for extra flavor.

4. The Base of the Roast

Place raw, chopped vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and place on top, breast side up. The vegetables will keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan, allowing air to circulate and evenly cook the bird. Serve the roasted vegetables as a side.

5. Salmonella Safety

Use sanitizer (instead of just soap and water) to wipe down anything the raw poultry may have touched. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the bird to avoid spreading salmonella.

6. Dual Temperature

Start the oven on a high temperature before reducing the temp to finish it low and slow. Place roast in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes. This allows the turkey get a nice brown sear on the outside, while the moisture pushes inside the bird. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 275 to finish until bird is cooked.

7. Checking for Doneness

Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees. A 12-pound bird will take roughly five hours.

8. Let It Rest

Once out of the oven, allow the bird to rest for at least 20 minutes to redistribute the juices throughout the meat. This will keep the turkey moist and tender. Cover it with a lid or foil to keep warm while resting.

9. Carving Your Bird

Start by popping out the thighs, then remove the wings and separate the legs from the thighs. When slicing the breast, cut against the grain of the meat.

10. Safely Handling Leftovers

After the meal, promptly refrigerate or freeze the turkey. It should not sit at room-temperature for more than two hours. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for three to four days.

Enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day!

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.