11. Not making sure oven is in order
Disaster can certainly strike on Thanksgiving. Don’t be that host with the raw turkey that you thought was “cooking” all day. You’ve probably heard at least some stories about how someone forgot to turn on the oven. Don’t join the group of such hosts and make sure your oven is in working order.
12. Undercooking the turkey
Unless you are on a version of the Santa Clarita diet, make sure the turkey is cooked. The ideal temperature for cooked turkey meat is about 165 degrees F for the breast and 170 degrees F for the thigh. Estimate the cooking time for the bird using a chart, but then, about 30 minutes before you think it will be done, start checking with a thermometer about every 10 minutes.
13. Not using a meat thermometer
Don’t rely on your intuition. Use a meat thermometer to check when the meat is done. Supermarket turkeys often come with a small indicator inset into the breast that’s supposed to do the work of a thermometer, but by the time these pop up, the turkey is often already overcooked. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the breast on one side of the turkey, holding it parallel to the bird’s neck. Don’t let it touch the bone.
14. Stuffing the turkey
Your parents and grandparents probably always stuffed their turkeys. But that’s no longer advisable. The stuffing, which usually involves breadcrumbs or some other porous substance, absorbs the raw turkey juices as the bird begins to cook, and those juices are often contaminated with bacteria. Bake the stuffing separately in a pan or casserole dish.
15. Throwing out pan drippings
Don’t let the pan drippings, including any browned bits sticking to the bottom, go to waste. They are the makings of a great gravy, a key addition to every Thanksgiving table. The turkey juices, fat, and browned bits all contribute flavor to the gravy.