This family-owned restaurant has been specializing in farm-to-table dining before there was even a name for it. But if there is one thing the 65-year-old restaurant knows best it’s their turkey. And here, Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant offered up five tips for a surefire, sans fire success come Thanksgiving Day.
It’s Thanksgiving every day at Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith, and they have dozens of ways to prep turkey to celebrate it. We’re talking tempura battered and fried, mixed in with broccoli and alfredo, stuffed into pot stickers and pot pies. But nothing can compare to their classic roast turkey dinner served with a side of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, that may just rival the holiday meal your grandmother used to make. Hart’s Turkey superior taste comes from two things. The first being the from-scratch mentality. Everything from the carrot relish to the cranberry sauce to the premium ice creams you can buy in their on-site country store is homemade. The second reason is simply experience. Hart’s Turkey Farm has been cooking up turkey every day for over 60 years! That makes them the resident experts on how to cook the perfect holiday bird. Here are five tips right from the mouths of Hart’s Turkey Farm experts that they were willing to share with us.
Thaw Your Turkey
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s a common mistake. Turkeys can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more per pound to thaw. That means if you bought a 20-pound turkey, you should plan on giving it about 24 hours to thaw. You can’t run out and buy a frozen turkey the night before. Trying to cook a partially thawed turkey will mean a longer cook time and a significantly drier bird.
Truss Your Turkey
This is a heated debate in the culinary world, but we believe that trussing, or tying up, your turkey allows it to cook more evenly because the legs aren’t cooking too much faster than the breast and the breast is protected, allowing more juices to remain under the skin. When it comes time to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, both your white and dark meat should be cooked to perfection.
Baste It Regularly
Finding the right basting routine is crucial. If you don’t baste enough the turkey might not retain its juices leading to dry meat. Basting too much is just as bad, though. Every time you open the door, the interior temperature of your oven drops, meaning it will take dinner even longer to cook. We find a happy balance by basting only once an hour and trying to go as quickly (and safely) as possible to avoid losing too much heat.
Double Cook the Stuffing
We prefer to cook our stuffing the traditional way, in the turkey. It offers both the turkey and the stuffing a little extra flavor, but the stuffing might not get hot enough to cook off the turkey’s juices. We suggest pulling the stuffing out and cooking it separately in a pan in the oven until it reaches a temperature of 165-degrees (The same temp. your turkey will be when it is done). This will also allow you to address any concerns with it, like being too dry or falling apart too easily. This extra step is the key to getting perfect stuffing every time.
After smelling dinner cooking for hours, it can be tempting to dive in the minute the turkey is out of the oven, but you can lose valuable juice that way. We recommend letting the bird rest for 15 to 20 minutes. This will keep the juices from draining out when you carve it up. This is a perfect time to have someone set the table, make sure everyone has drinks, start moving platters to the dining table, and letting your stuffing cook to the perfect temperature.