Charleston cook explains how to season and cook a turkey

Thanksgiving turkey

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCBD) — If you’re cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving for your family, it’s a big responsibility.

Hopefully, you’ve already started the thawing process. It’s best to put it in the refrigerator 24-hours in advance.

There are also some safety issues cooks should know.

“When dealing with any kind of poultry, turkey, chicken, stuff like that, you want to make sure you’re cleaning and sanitizing your work areas,” said Robert Patterson, who owns Sticky Fingers Smoke House in Mt. Pleasant.

Also, before cooking, remember to wash your hands or wear gloves.

The next step is to get up-close-and-personal with the bird.

“What we want to do is get all the inners and stuff out. Now, some people will use this in some sort of dish,” said Patterson

Some may add the “giblets” to a gravy or stuffing, but it’s important not to cook the turkey with anything inside it.

To flavor the turkey, some people may brine it.

To brine, you must dissolve salt, sugar, or some other seasoning into at least 4 quarts of water. Then, add the turkey and refrigerate overnight.

Another option is to use a dry rub. This may be a better option for those who don’t have time to brine.

“Get down underneath the skin, especially around the leg and the breast,” said Patterson.

Then, it’s time to roast, and no one likes a dry turkey.

If cooking in an oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the turkey about 15 minutes per pound, or until the turkey’s breast temperature reaches 165 degrees.

“It’s always a good idea to not rush it. If you get behind on Thanksgiving, you might as well go out!” said Patterson.

Sticky Fingers usually smokes turkeys for those who pre-order them for Thanksgiving. They use hickory wood for the smoker.

Either way you cook the turkey, Patterson says it’s important not to open the oven or smoker door until your timer goes off.

“Each time you open, it’s just going to slow the process, almost bringing it to a screeching halt. It’s not going to cook any faster if you keep opening it.”

However, as soon as your timer goes off, check the temperature (to make sure it is at 165 degrees), and all you need are your sides.

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