"People tend to overcook them."

By Maria Yagoda
November 05, 2020
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Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year, but one thing that will likely stay the same is the presence of turkey on the dinner table. As people host smaller gatherings, they may opt for smaller birds, or even go for turkey breast.

Ina Garten, whose new cookbook, Modern Comfort Food, dropped in October, has a tip to make sure your turkey is moist, succulent, and deeply flavorful. The secret? Let it rest much longer than you think you should.

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"I think we're used to cooking protein for too long and forgetting to let it rest," Garten told Food & Wine. "When it rests, it really keeps cooking. So I undercook things by about ten degrees and then let it rest." She says she'll let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes after taking it out of the oven.

This year, especially for smaller Thanksgiving gatherings, Garten recommends roasting a turkey breast and skipping the "rigmarole" of carving entirely.

"The thing about the breast of a turkey that's great is that you're not dealing with bones," she said. "I always hate when you're dressed up and you're trying to carve the turkey. It's all over the place. It's just the worst. But with a boneless breast, it's got great flavors and you can really assemble it a day in advance. The flavoring should really get into the turkey, and then just roast it before you want to serve it. And so all you have to do is slice it."

If you do go with a bird, the smaller the better, at least if you want to avoid all those "turkey is dry" stereotypes. Garten advises sticking with birds that are no more than 5 pounds.