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       Have you ever taken on the challenge of preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey? With travel-worn friends and relatives gathered together to break bread, it’s no doubt that cooking the main dish for Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful.

       Because our family has not yet hosted Thanksgiving, we haven’t had the privilege of providing turkey for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t be prepared for future Thanksgivings!

       One intimidating aspect of preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey is picking the best recipe. Obviously, your recipe choice could either make or break your main dish. On top of that, many people don’t know how to cook a turkey, let alone properly shop for and prepare a pastured turkey, which is a completely different bird. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! In this article, we’ll show you the exact steps to a perfect holiday turkey:

  1. Check for local sources, such as your local grocery store. Even better, order from Bartlett Farms to have your turkey delivered right to your doorstep.
  2. Order well in advance: turkeys are in high demand during this time of the year, so it’s important to order ahead of time to get the quality turkey that you’re looking for.
  3. Thaw your bird or have it delivered fresh: thawing your turkey slowly over a period of hours/days in your refrigerator or in cold water is the best idea if it’s frozen, but a faster idea is to have it delivered fresh.
  4. Prepare your recipe: I’ve put three recipes from trusted sources at the end of this article. The blogger Sarah Pope recommends wet-brining pastured turkeys beforehand, as they tend to be dryer than conventionally raised (and brine-injected) turkeys. Here is how to do it. 
  5. Cook your bird in time for your guests: in addition to thawing time for a frozen turkey and using optional marinates/dry-rubs, planning a well-timed roast (or grilled!) turkey is essential as some recipes require many hours of cooking.
  6. Carve it properly and save the gravy: How to properly carve a turkey can be found here.
  7. Serve it hot with all your favorite holiday side dishes…and don’t forget homemade ice cream to go along with homemade pie at the end! PS– I love chocolate, so I add ¼ cup cocoa powder and a pinch of salt to my Nourishing Traditions Vanilla Ice Cream recipe on page 550. It is INCREDIBLE. My husband likes to add marshmallows to his. 🙂
  8. Don’t forget to save the bones and any scraps to make bone broth and have turkey soups and sandwiches in the following days…yum!

Here are 3 recipes that I’d use if I were making this year’s turkey:
1.The first (gluten free) recipe is from Nourished Kitchen.
2.The second recipe, called Maple Brined Turkey with Citrus and Herbs, is also from Nourished Kitchen.
3.The third recipe with stuffing is from Nourishing Traditions.

       It is a blessing to have friends and family, especially around the holidays. Always with several options for Thanksgiving dinners every year, it has been a gift to spend time with people I love and to taste many different kinds of turkey dinners. One of my favorites was done by my uncle in Moorhead, MN; he made an incredibly juicy roast turkey with a dry-rub beforehand. In the coming years, I hope to provide a dish just as delicious for those same people that have so generously loved and served me throughout my life. There really is a lot to be thankful for! As long as we plan far ahead of time (a week minimum) with the recipe, thawing, and marinade/dry-rub times, I’m sure we all can put smiles on the faces of our loved ones come Thanksgiving. Happy planning and stay warm, friends!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving turkey recipe?

Author: Diane Stanislowski