Classic Christmas Dinner |

Classic Christmas Dinner

There’s a good chance that this holiday season you’ll be serving turkey at your family gathering. Not only a crowd-pleaser, turkey is a versatile meat that lends itself to a variety of side dishes and condiments.

However, if you’ve found that preparing turkey isn’t one of your specialties, or that guests seem less than anxious to “gobble” up your turkey feasts, you may benefit from some of these helpful tips, courtesy of

– Want a truly fresh turkey? Go for a frozen bird, which is frozen immediately after it’s prepared. Fresh turkeys can sit in your grocery store for days.

– Allow adequate defrosting time. For example, a 20-pound turkey requires four full days of defrosting in the refrigerator (the safest method of defrosting to avoid bacterial growth). Remove the giblets and neck as soon as they can be pried off.

– Use a shallow roasting pan for cooking. A deep roasting pan will only steam it.

– Do not stuff your turkey in advance as bacterial growth can spoil uncooked turkey. Just before roasting, stuff the body and the neck of the turkey. Do not pack in the stuffing, as it will expand during cooking. If packed in too tightly, the stuffing will be very dense instead of light. Sew the abdomen closed and sew the legs together, putting them close to the body so that the stuffing cooks evenly.

– Roast your turkey breast-side down on a v-shaped rack until its last hour or so in the oven. Then turn it to brown the breast. The result is a moister white meat.

– Don’t rely on the “plastic button” to pop and inform you your turkey is done — you could overcook it. Choose a reliable meat thermometer instead. A turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 145 F.

– Baste your turkey frequently to ensure moister meat.

– Let the turkey rest for 20 to 30 minutes after it has cooked. Cover it with foil after it has been removed from the oven to let the juices redistribute through the bird, making for a juicier dish.

– A cooking bag makes cooking your turkey easy. The cooking juices do not evaporate, so the bird is constantly basted. Also, clean up is much easier because you won’t have burnt drippings on the bottom of your pan.

Follow a few simple cooking tips for turkey success.