Turkey Talk with Donna

October 30, 2023|
3 minute read


Throughout the holiday season, turkey is the topic on everyone’s lips. We sat down with Donna, our Meat and Seafood Coordinator/Fairfax Meat and Seafood Manager to get answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

I have 10 people coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. What size turkey should I get?

My rule of thumb for turkey is that you need about a pound per person, plus one additional pound to offset the weight of the turkey’s bones. For 10 guests, you’d want to go with a turkey that weighs around 11 lbs. If you know you want a lot of turkey leftovers, I’d recommend planning for 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person, plus one addition pound. In this case, you’d want to select a turkey that is closer to 16 pounds.

What do I need to do to prep my turkey?

The first thing I recommend is giving yourself enough time to thaw your turkey. Our Diestel turkeys arrive deeply chilled, and while they aren’t frozen, they do need time to thaw before they can be cooked. The safest and best way to thaw your Turkey is in the refrigerator. Place the turkey on a roasting rack over a pan in the refrigerator, so that air can circulate around it. It will need around 1 day of thawing time for every 5 lbs. If you need to speed up the thawing process, you can place the turkey in a plastic bag and submerge it in cold water to thaw it. If you go this route, make sure to change the water every 30 minutes, and do not use warm or hot water. For this method, you’ll need about 30 minutes of thaw time for every pound.

A lot of our customers like to brine their turkey before cooking it. You don’t have to take this step, but if
you have a little time, it is a great way to add flavor and keep the meat moist. There are two ways to brine a turkey: dry brining and wet brining. Dry brining is really simple. You make a mixture of salt and herbs/spices, rub it all over the turkey, and let it relax in the refrigerator for 24 hours. A lot of our customers swear by this method, and say it makes for a crispier skin. The other option is wet brining. To wet brine your turkey, you’ll submerge it in a solution of salt, water, and usually herbs and spices for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator. If you’re interested in wet brining your turkey, we sell brining mixes. Just check in with our staff.

Over the last few years, we’ve also received a lot of customer requests for spatchcocked turkeys. To spatchcock a turkey, you remove the backbone, which allows it to be cooked in a flattened state. A lot of people say that spatchcocking helps with a more even cook, a faster cooking time, and crispier skin. Our team is happy to spatchcock your turkey for you with a little notice. We recommend calling the meat department a few days before you’re scheduled to pick up your turkey to let them know you’d like your bird spatchcocked.

How long do I need to cook my turkey?

If your turkey is unstuffed, you’ll need about 13 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven. If it is stuffed, you’ll need closer to 15 minutes per pound. The internal temperature of your turkey should be 165 degrees when it is done cooking.

Do you have any turkey cooking tips?

I like to cook my turkey on a rack to make sure that air can circulate around it during the cooking process. I keep things simple and rub my turkey with butter before it goes into the oven, and then baste with butter every 30-45 minutes, though you can use oil to baste if you prefer. I think butter gives the best flavor.

A lot of our customers have had success starting their turkeys in a high heat oven. To do this, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once your oven comes up to temperature, put the turkey in, and immediately turn the oven down to 350 degrees. The high heat cooking at the very beginning is said to help crisp the skin.

Last but not least, make sure you give your turkey time to rest when it comes out of the oven. I’d say 30 minutes should ensure that the turkey juices settle properly into the meat.

Further Reading

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