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Few feasts are so steeped in tradition as Thanksgiving, the ultimate comfort meal! Perhaps you’re going for a more straightforward, smaller Thanksgiving meal this year? Or are you still cooking the “Big Bird” for a more enormous feast? We have you covered with seven different ways to prepare the turkey—plus all the delicious fixings!
Option 1: The simplest roast turkey breast
While a traditional Thanksgiving feast may involve carving an entire turkey at the table, a more intimate Thanksgiving works by simply roasting the turkey breast.
If you plan to cook the traditional “big bird” this year, our #1 tip is: Think in advance! If the turkey is frozen, you must start defrosting days in advance—one day for every four pounds! For the Thanksgiving feast, you want a turkey that brings out the flavor with roasting, brining, rubs, glazes, and basting. This is not your lunchmeat turkey. Explore the delicious options!
Ensure one pound per person—or more, if you want to ensure leftovers! Order or buy 2 to 3 weeks in advance!
Have a good roasting pan and a rack (which often comes with the pan), plus an instant-read thermometer for safety, if not peak flavor. See how to use a meat thermometer.
If you buy a frozen turkey, it’s essential to start defrosting days in advance—one day for every four pounds—and it is recommended that you defrost it in the refrigerator. If your turkey is not frozen, unwrap it a couple of days before cooking and let it air dry in the refrigerator so the air dries its skin tight.
First, what’s the difference between “stuffing” and “dressing”? Traditionally, “stuffing” is cooked inside the turkey, whereas “dressing” is cooked outside. Nowadays, the terms tend to be interchangeable, though there are purists. Southern cooks have always served their “dressings” as separate side dishes so you’ll more often hear the term “dressing” in the South.
More and more folks are cooking outside the bird in recent years due to safety concerns. Warm, moist stuffing is a potential breeding ground for bacteria such as salmonella (unless you know how to cook the stuffing properly).
Here are three recipe options to fit your dinner menu
The turkey may be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, but the mix of delicious sides makes it memorable. Think about selecting side dishes that add color—bright red cranberry, deep orange sweet potatoes, and bright green Brussels sprouts—against the neutral of the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.