Thanksgiving is now just a couple of days away, which I’m sure if your home is like mine, has been on everyone’s minds for the past several weeks. Thoughts of company, upcoming holidays, and food seem to constantly swirl around in conversations. There are numerous ways out there for people to prepare their main course of turkey for Thanksgiving, from basting, brining and marinating to using roaster ovens, grills, smokers, deep fat fryers, pressure cookers and microwaves. This week, as our time is short, I wanted to focus on how to cook a turkey the day before serving it. Perhaps this is considered heresy to some people as the smell, atmosphere and stress of preparing turkey surround the events of the day but you might be looking for another way.
The following directions from the University of Nebraska, I emphasize again, apply to roasting your turkey one day before your meal. You’ll want to wait about 20 minutes after removing turkey from the oven to allow the juices to distribute. Be sure to follow safe procedures for thawing and roasting your turkey before you proceed to this first step. For more information, go to the USDA Let's Talk Turkey site.Slice the breast meat but the legs and wings can be left whole. Place your turkey in shallow containers, limiting the depth to less than 2 inches. Metal containers cool faster than glass-type pans. Also, refrigerate any broth saved for making gravy in shallow containers. Refrigerate the turkey, loosely covered. You can place loosely covered foods in the refrigerator while still warm. However, cover tightly when food is completely cooled.
When serving your turkey the next day, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline advises that cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated. Of course, you’re going to want to reheat your turkey so I would suggest following these recommendations given by the USDA:In the oven set the temperature no lower than 325° F. Reheat the turkey to an internal temperature of 165° F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. My main concern with reheating is keeping the turkey meat moist. What is suggested to keep the turkey moist is to add a little broth or water and cover it. If you are using a microwave, cover your food and rotate it for even heating. Once again, check the internal temperature of your turkey with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165° F. After that, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal and holiday!