Good morning. There’s only one thing you really need to know as Thanksgiving gets underway, and it applies whether you’re cooking or filling a seat, whether you’re a guest or a host, whether you’re working a shift or stuck in an airport. It’s this: Everything is going to be all right.
Everything’s going to be all right because you’re going to repeat that phrase like a mantra until it becomes fact, until it turns into foul-weather gear to protect you from whatever foul weather comes your way. Kitchen disasters, rude relatives, lost relatives, guests who are late, failed pies, scorched mashed potatoes, not enough wine — it’s fine. These things happen.
Allow them to happen. Practice a radical empathy for others and for yourself today. And don’t worry ’bout a thing.
Fact: Your turkey is done when its internal temperature, measured at the deepest part of the thigh, is 165 degrees. I pull mine out of the oven at 160 or 162, knowing that the temperature will continue to rise as the bird rests on my counter beneath its jaunty foil cap. But I’ve also seen numbers closer to 180 over the years and (see the advice above) tamped down my stress about that. Carved and moistened with stock, then served with a lot of gravy, an overcooked bird can still make for a marvelous meal.
(Don’t panic if you don’t have a thermometer. Use a fork or a paring knife to pierce the skin of the thigh. If the juices run clear, you’re good. If the legs are loose in their sockets, you’re good.)
Advice: Rest your bird for at least 20 minutes, to allow it to settle itself, in advance of the carving. Plan for 20 minutes minimum, though I’ve gone as long as an hour with no ill effect.
Opinion: If you’re looking for help in your cooking today, you should avail yourself of the resources on New York Times Cooking, including our Thanksgiving FAQ, our best recipes for the feast and our best last-minute recipes. We also have guides to help you roast and carve the turkey, and for making gravy, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, pie crust, potatoes and stuffing.
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