Turkey is the star of most Thanksgiving dinners, but it can also be the most stressful component of the meal for home cooks. Will it be ready when the guests arrive? Will the meat be dry? Is the turkey actually cooked throughout?
If roasting a turkey under pressure sounds intimidating, consider another strategy: cook the turkey ahead.
Roasting your turkey ahead will save you the time spent testing and carving, allowing you to spend more time with your guests. Cook it a day or two in advance, let it cool completely, then carve the bird into large pieces — breasts, wings, thighs and drumsticks. Store in a container in the refrigerator until the big day.
When you’re ready to reheat it, put the meat back in a roasting pan, pour a bit of chicken stock over the turkey to keep it moist, and cover. Bake in a 325-degree oven alongside side dishes for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the bird. Once it’s warm, carve the turkey into slices; this is much easier to do with segments than it is with a whole bird.
Though a reheated turkey may lack the crispy skin of one right out of the oven, the method described here can actually result in juicier meat — and a more relaxed host.