Many aspiring cooks have had high hopes of cooking the perfect holiday turkey for their family, only to realize the curse of dry meat that is both flavorless and difficult to swallow. Fortunately, we’ve assembled a few key tips from the meat man himself, Melvin Edes, owner of Edes Meats, which will be sure to gain you the title of reigning King (or Queen) of the Kitchen.
Many believe the key to making a delectable turkey is the seasoning and excessive amounts of salt and pepper sprinkled over the poultry. However, Melvin says it’s simply not necessary for a great-tasting meal. “Any turkey that you buy anymore is already injected with a little salt so you don’t need to add any to it,” he explains. “The only way you can get salt into the turkey is to soak it overnight in a brine solution.”
As for the outside of the bird, Melvin recommends keeping it simple. Rub a little olive oil and dust some pepper over the top and it’s ready to go. “The olive oil will make it brown and the pepper is basically for appearance,” he instructs. As for cooking time, Melvin recommends the slower the better, to keep from overcooking the turkey. “You cook it slow at 250 degrees, and bring your internal temperature to 165 degrees because [the turkey] is going to continue cooking even after you pull it from the oven by three or four degrees,” Melvin continues.
The easiest way to measure the temperature of your turkey is to use a meat thermometer probe inserted into the breast to ensure the meat is fully cooked, Melvin says.
“A common misconception that people have is to cook the turkey too hot. They will cook them to an internal temperature of 175 degrees and by then they are already too dry. They cook them at 350 to 375 degrees and the turkey is going to be done, dry and tough,” Melvin denotes. What to do when you’ve already overcooked your gobbler? “Throw it away!” he laughs. “About the only thing I can recommend is to melt some butter on it. And of course, butter’s good with anything and the turkey will soak it up.”
Another simple way to save the day is to carve the dry turkey breasts and place the slices in a single layer in a large, shallow pan. Then pour chicken or turkey broth over the slices and cover the pan with a little foil. Heat it in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the meat is hot. Either way, you should be able to salvage your meal and subdue the hungriest of family members.
Once you’ve finished cooking the fowl, wrap it in foil to lock in some of the heat and finish cooking the rest of your meal. Turkey is a meat that doesn’t necessarily have to be served hot, and is acceptable at room temperature.
For those of us who don’t want to deal with the hassle (or the pressure) of preparing a turkey, Melvin offers fully cooked, smoked turkeys from Edes Meats that only need to be reheated. As for simplicity and guaranteed results, we can’t argue with that.
by Ethan Black
Ethan is currently finishing his graduate degree in Sport Management from West Texas A&M University, with an emphasis on Sport Sociology and Marketing. In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports and spending time with family and friends.