The Christmas feast is a week or so away; and I want to talk about the bird.
The very first Christmas where I took over the turkey, I didn’t cook the turkey properly; it was pink inside, but crispy and deceivingly done looking on the outside. Nevertheless, we ate around the pink parts and fired the turkey in the oven the next day for leftovers; to say I was embarrassed, as a culinary arts student, is a gross understatement. I vowed to conquer the turkey; because I REALLY wanted the “oohs” and “ahhs’ as I set it down on the holiday table. After getting off to a puttering start, I can now affirm, loudly, that I know when the turkey is done.
In recounting this tale to many people, I came to understand that this “bird doneness” business strikes fear through the hearts of many Christmas meal makers; so today I want to share with you the Top 3 Ways to Know When the Turkey Is Done.
The Plate Test
This many seem old school, true it’s an oldie but it’s a goody. Hold your bird over a white plate, if the juices are running clear, you’re laughing; however, if there is even a whisper of red or pink, that birdie needs some more time. This method has NEVER failed me.
Cute names aside, this is also a time tested doneness tip that I’ve used on whole chickens as well. Take a large meat fork, and pierce it deeply into the thickest part of the bird, in the meatiest part of the thigh. This is where the turkey cooks the slowest and is also one of the thickest. Pull the fork out after 15 seconds, and place on your lip; if the fork is too hot to leave on your lip, chances are the bird is finished! As a note, if you take the drumstick of the bird are able to easily pull it away from the bone, this is also a very good sign that your turkey is ready to rest.
Technology for the Win
You may have asked why I’ve yet to mention the meat thermometer, it’s simply because I’ve saved the best for last; although, I stand behind the aforementioned tips, who can argue with the accuracy of a meat thermometer. When a meat thermometer is in good working order, this is hands down the best method to test the doneness of turkey; look for a temperature of 165F-180F.
TIP Always wash your meat thermometer by hand; the high heat temperature of a dishwasher throws off the calibration of the thermometer.
Ok, so now you have 3 effective ways to test the doneness of your turkey. Be sure to note that your average holiday turkey needs to rest for at least 30-45 minutes before it should be carved; otherwise all those carefully crafted juices will be lost to the gravy.