5 common mistakes when cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving: Chef Leah Cohen reveals how to avoid them

Thanksgiving is Nov. 23, 2023 — and millions of Americans are preparing to cook their turkey, sides and desserts.

When it comes to cooking your own turkey, the chef in the home — no matter who that might be — tends to do his or her due diligence in terms of proper prep for the day.

There are, however, some common mistakes that people tend to make on Turkey Day

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Chef Leah Cohen of New Jersey shared with Fox News Digital the most popular mistakes that people make when cooking their turkeys — and how to avoid these errors at all costs ahead of the food-filled holiday. 

Read on for her revelations.

Chef Leah Cohen

Chef Leah Cohen was a contestant on “Top Chef.” She’s the owner of two restaurants in New York City and shared with Fox News Digital her best insights for avoiding turkey-cooking mistakes this Thanksgiving. (Georgi Richardson)

1. Under-seasoning their turkey

Cohen said one of the most common mistakes people make when cooking for Thanksgiving is under-seasoning their turkey. 

“Typically, people cook a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, which can make it difficult to season the inside of the meat,” the chef said.

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Cohen recommends brining the turkey in advance to help keep the moisture intact. 

“The size of the bird determines how long I brine the turkey for, but at the minimum, you should brine it for 12 hours,” she said. 

Turkey dinner

Cohen said one of the most common mistakes is under-seasoning a turkey.  (iStock)

Lastly, Cohen said to not forget to rinse off the brine and pat the turkey dry. 

2. Having a dry turkey

The former “Top Chef” contestant and owner of two New York City restaurants said another mistake is having a dry turkey on Thanksgiving. 

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“Turkey tends to be on the dry side because it is low in fat — that is why fat is your friend when it comes to cooking turkey,” she said.

thanksgiving turkey on table

Cohen said having a dry turkey is a common mistake when people cook Thanksgiving dinner.  (iStock)

Cohen said she makes a compound butter to rub under the skin and on the outside of the turkey to help combat dryness. 

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“My compound butter consists of unsalted butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, Lee Kum Kee soy sauce and Panda Brand oyster sauce,” she said.

3. Not tempering the turkey before putting it in the oven

Cohen said it’s important to remember to temper the turkey before putting it in the oven. 

“The bigger the bird, the longer it will take to temper,” she said.

Chef Leah Cohen

Chef Leah Cohen shared common mistakes to look out for this Thanksgiving when it comes to cooking turkey for the big holiday feast.  (Georgi Richardson)

The chef said she normally takes the turkey out of the refrigerator two hours before she plans to cook it in the oven. 

4. Not using a roasting rack

The chef stressed that it’s important to cook the turkey on a roasting rack with a pan beneath it that can catch all the juices from the bird.

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“The rack allows for airflow at the bottom of the turkey and prevents it from directly meeting the bottom of the pan — saving it from burning,” she said. 

Turkey in oven

Cohen noted it’s important to make sure the turkey is on a roasting rack and has a pan beneath it — so that all the juices can be caught.  (iStock)

Cohen also noted that she likes to add other ingredients to the mix.

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“I also add in some aromatics, such as onion, carrots and celery, at the bottom of the pan halfway through cooking,” she said. 

5. Not letting the turkey rest

In the heat of the moment, many people want to dig right in to their delicious-looking turkey once they remove it from the oven.

But wait — suggested Cohen. 

Chef Leah Cohen and turkey

Chef Leah Cohen told Fox News Digital, “I also add in some aromatics, such as onion, carrots and celery, at the bottom of the pan halfway through cooking” the turkey.  (iStock/Georgi Richardson)

“I usually let my turkey rest for about 20 minutes before cutting into it,” she said. 

Cohen noted that letting the turkey rest is important to make sure the juices inside the turkey are fully soaked into the meat. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.


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