When I got back from Chicago, both my mother and mother-in-law called to say, “How was Turkey School?”
“I didn’t poison anyone!” I told them. I swear they both breathed a sigh of relief.
Butterball University — or Turkey School, as I am fond of calling it — was honestly fantastic. This was my first experience with a hands-on cooking class, and it was a lot of fun. Butterball’s basic theory is that if you defrost the turkey safely, then preparing it is fairly simple. Of course, on the day we talked about food safety we were all terrified (Chris Twittered, “at butterball turkey talkline headquarters learning how I have narrowly escaped killing my family”) because OH MY GOD do you all have any IDEA how much BACTERIA will grow on your turkey if you don’t thaw it right?
A LOT let me tell you. Eew.
(Go here to read about how to defrost a turkey safely. You’re welcome.)
I think that what scares people about cooking a turkey (and by “people” I mean “women like me who are barely getting dinner on the table five nights a week in the first place and now you want me to cook a TURKEY and have HOW MANY PEOPLE to my house for Thanksgiving dinner?!?”) is the whole idea of the elaborate meal. Honestly, the turkey is easy, and if I can say that you know it’s true.
The best thing about Butterball’s turkey school is the details, the little tips and tricks for cooking the turkey without losing your mind (or poisoning anyone!). Remember how your mother always told you to wash the turkey before you cooked it? Well, don’t; that just spreads bacteria and god knows what other kind of poultry ick around your kitchen. Instead, pat the turkey dry with paper towels. You can stuff a few into the turkey’s big cavity to soak up all the juices (just remember to take them out before cooking, or you’ll have Brawny stuffing).
Cook the turkey on a rack for the best results. Did you know that if you don’t have a rack to rest the turkey on, you can fake one with some tinfoil, or even carrots? I didn’t either! I didn’t even know you NEEDED a rack to cook a turkey.
(To make a foil coil, tear off a big sheet of foil and make a snake — you know, like you make with PlayDough. Then wrap the snake into a coil, like a cinnamon bun, and rest the turkey on that. Use two if you have a really big turkey. Throw away after cooking. Of course.)
Once the turkey is patted dry and stuffed, you need to put it in the pan, on those cool coils. Butterball turkeys come with a turkey lifter, which is seriously the Best Thing Ever, if only because by the time you have to relocate the bird to the pan you’re really damn tired of touching raw turkey (or at least I am). Plus, who hasn’t struggled to get the cooked bird OUT of the pan after it’s done? The turkey lifter means less cursing in the moments before you carve the bird, and isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?
Finally, one last piece of turkey cooking advice: wear comfortable shoes. Although keep in mind that pairing plaid and leopard is a pretty advanced move, akin to deep frying your turkey; you want to really be prepared for that.
Actually I just forgot to pack shoes to go with these pants. Whoops.
This post is one in a series sponsored by Butterball, as part of my job as a Turkey Talk-Line blogger.