Good morning. My phone will start chirping tomorrow morning and won’t let up all day, texts coming in from family, friends, people I haven’t seen since eighth grade, all of them asking the same question and all of them getting the same answer: 165. That’s the minimum internal temperature the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says is required of a safely cooked turkey.
My best advice for getting there? Use a digital meat thermometer (there’s still time to buy one!) to check the temperature at the thigh and the breast, and remember that it will continue to rise after you’ve removed the turkey from the oven. For me, that means stopping the cooking just shy of 160, and allowing the bird to rest for a good long while.
Other questions we frequently field here at NYT Cooking this time of year: how to cook a turkey (above); how to make gravy; how to carve a turkey. We can help you make cranberry sauce, pie crust and stuffing. We can show you how to make potatoes; how to make brussels sprouts; how to make stuffing. (I don’t think you should stuff your bird, by the way. Make it in a separate pan and call it dressing. A stuffed bird cooks more slowly and anyway doesn’t provide enough stuffing, even if you’re cooking for only a few people this year.)
And if you really get jammed up? Give email@example.com a shout. We’ll be checking emails until 3 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday and will do our very best to get back to you.
As for tonight, I’d urge restraint in your cooking, something simple in advance of all your work tomorrow. Maybe this salad of bitter greens with a lemon-mustard dressing that Adam Nagourney picked up at Mozza in Los Angeles? Or the cannellini-bean pasta with beurre blanc that Tejal Rao learned from the British food writer Jack Monroe?
I’m going to take a cue from one of our readers and cook a no-recipe recipe for trout, off instructions he received in the early 1990s from the chef at the restaurant La Petite Ferme in New York City, since closed. It’s dead easy, requiring only a nonstick pan, butter, trout fillets, a glass of red or white wine, some chopped shallots and parsley.
Simply heat your oven to 500, then foam the butter in your pan and sear the trout briefly on each side, adding a little salt and pepper. Then add your wine to deglaze the pan and burn off its alcohol, then the chopped shallots and parsley. Move the pan into the hot oven for seven minutes, turning the trout once. And that’s it! Perfection on a plate, maybe with some rice and simply cooked green beans.
There are thousands and thousands of actual recipes to think about making on the night before Thanksgiving awaiting you on NYT Cooking. Go take a look and see what you think. As ever, you can save the recipes you want to cook and rate the ones you’ve made. And as always you can leave notes on them, if you’d like to remind yourself of something you’ve done to improve the recipe, or to tell your fellow subscribers about your success.
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