Cooking Thanksgiving dinner? Take some turkey tips from a pro

Mike Dougherty
November 21, 2018 - 5:49 pm
Thanksgiving Turkey

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Whether you're a seasoned Thanksgiving veteran or a turkey day novice, there's always room for improvement in the kitchen. And while there are seemingly endless ways to prep and cook a turkey, a Center City chef says there is one step that shouldn't be skipped.

Brining that bird is a must to ensure maximum tastiness, according to Lowes Hotel executive chef Thomas Harkins. 

"A brine injects flavor into the turkey," Harkins explained. "It basically consists of some salt, water, some rosemary, lemon, sage, thyme and bay leaf."

Chef Thomas Harkins
Mike Dougherty | KYW Newsradio

Harkins says submerge the turkey in the liquid concoction for eight to ten hours, and then cover and roast until it's 155 degrees at the thigh. It'll reach the optimal 160 degrees while resting. If you're pressed for time, Harkins has a trick.

"I've sometimes taken the turkey off the bone to make it easier to cook," he said, "because I only have one oven in my house."

READ: Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for people with eating disorders

Some people even use soda, like Mountain Dew or Ginger Ale for a brine.

"And it gets all carmelly when it cooks and it glazes the turkey, it coats the turkey, Harkins explained. "So it works out pretty good. You keep basting it and basting it."

Home chefs at ACME in South Philly had some tips of their own. Theresa Coney is using a sage and maple syrup glaze.

"While it bakes, it makes it nice and brown," Coney said, "and it's not overly sweet."

And no matter what, she says, do not over-cook it.