Valley Bounty: Turkey

If you have ever found yourself responsible for roasting a turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner, you know it is a bit of a strange position to be in; the turkey is the central protein the rest of the typically starch-heavy Thanksgiving meal is built around, and yet roasting a whole turkey is something even the most ambitious home chef usually attempts once a year at most. Other than some specific recipes (like as a sandwich cold-cut and as a substitute for beef burgers), American dietary preferences lean significantly towards the less expensive and more conveniently-sized chicken—per capita chicken consumption in the U.S. is about 80 lbs. per year, compared with only about 16 lbs. for turkey.

There are lots of turkey preparation methods out there with their own adamant defenders: frying, grilling, brining, spatchcocking, stuffing or not stuffing, etc. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options or want a refresher on the basics, use this as a starting point:

Preheat your oven to 450°F, then drop the heat to 350°F and put the turkey in whole, thawed, and unstuffed (stuffing changes the equation a bit) with some broth or water at the bottom of the pan. 13 minutes in the oven per pound of turkey is a decent rough estimate, but your best bet is to use a meat thermometer—the turkey is done when it is 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)