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Approaching the end of the year involves celebrating two major holidays that involve a lot of eating; Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. I have always considered Thanksgiving the holiday that focuses more on families coming together to celebrate through feasting. Throughout many centuries, it has become the norm for families to celebrate Thanksgiving Day by feasting on a baked or roasted turkey, served with dressing and all the fixings. No one really knows when or how turkey became the traditional meat for Thanksgiving holiday. But there is speculation that years ago many believed that serving the biggest bird, turkey, meant that that person was wealthy. I find it interesting to have learned that turkeys are called “turkey” because they are supplied to England from America, through a country called Turkey.
As in any case, there is always speculation, when conducting research. From the perspective of a person who enjoys turkey, on occasion, and who has always been the person designated to prepare the turkey for the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, the meat in turkey is tender and juicy when prepared right. The first time I ate a piece of turkey, I must admit that I did not want to eat another piece because it tasted sort of dry and bland. I’m sure that was an experience I had as a school-age child eating the traditional Thanksgiving meal in the cafeteria before the Thanksgiving holiday began. That was around the time I was using hot sauce to add flavor to any and all meats that I ate. I realized a long time ago that most of the food served by cafeterias and some restaurants is processed. That may or may not be true. However, adding the right seasoning to your food can help bring out that flavor that awakens your taste buds in quite a pleasant way.
When I first began preparing my Thanksgiving turkey, I knew that I wanted the meat to be tender, juicy, and seasoned so that everyone would enjoy every bite of it and savor the flavor in the process. I knew that, traditionally, turkeys are placed in the oven, uncovered, in a pan that accommodates its size. For at least four hours, this bird cooks in an oven uncovered and losing its flavor. As the heat in the oven cooks the turkey, it also dries out the meat in some cases. But, there’s a way to avoid cooking a turkey and having it come out tasting dry and bland.
In order to keep the moisture in the meat, I decided to wrap the turkey in aluminum foil as tight as possible, after covering the meat with my selected seasonings to help bring out the flavor. I wasn’t sure how it would come out the first time I tried it. But I knew that it was an ideal option for keeping the meat tender and juicy as it seals in the flavor. At twelve midnight on Thanksgiving Day, my turkey goes inside the oven, which is set on 300 degrees, and cooks slowly for six or seven hours while I’m sleeping.
Once or twice during the night, I get up and go to the kitchen to check on it. By the time I get up to do my first check on the meat, there’s a flavorful aroma lingering in the air in the kitchen that instantly awakens my sense of smell. It’s that aluminum foil, wrapped tightly around the turkey, that creating that flavorful aroma mixed with the seasonings I added to the meat. The first hint of that flavorful aroma tells me it’s cooking just the way I want it to, and I return to my bed for a few more hours of sleep. Later, when I climb out of bed to start the Thanksgiving holiday, I take the turkey from the oven, open the foil and cover the meat with juices from the turkey, then slide it back inside the oven long enough to get that brown glazed color. This usually takes another 10 or 15 minutes. By the time I get cleaned and dressed for the day, my turkey is ready to come out of the oven to be served on plates, with or without gravy.
Everyone has their own special recipes for preparing holiday meals, some are passed down from generation to generation, many are first-time ideas. I would recommend wrapping the turkey in foil or placing in a covered dish to seal in the flavor. It just may be the ideal option for sealing the juicy flavor in your holiday bird.