8 Biggest Thanksgiving Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
Mistake 5: Overcooking your bird
All that worry about dry meat on Thanksgiving is just about overcooking it. If it’s done right, which is to 165 degrees F (considered safe by the USDA), then it should stay juicy and moist. Keep in mind if you want your meat to end up at 165, then you’ll need to pull the bird out of the oven when it hits between 155 and 160. The temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees as the bird rests (that’s called “carryover cooking.”) The complicating factor here is that the breast tends to cook faster than the thighs and legs, and also will naturally dry out more because it’s leaner. I like this turkey-roasting technique of protecting the breast meat with a foil deflector; the foil slows down how fast the breast cooks, so that it reaches the proper temp at the same time that the thigh meat does.
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