When cooking a turkey this Thanksgiving, it’s useful to comply with the science, in accordance to a current NPR report.

First, research the turkey’s anatomy from its leg to its breast, defined Kenji López-Alt, a New York Times meals columnist and writer of “The Food Lab.”

Thanksgiving turkey with side items.  

Thanksgiving turkey with aspect gadgets.  

The writer famous as a result of the white breast meat wants to be cooked at 150 levels Fahrenheit, however the darkish leg and thigh meat ought to attain least 165 levels (ideally 175 levels), by the time the legs are the appropriate temperature, the breast is overcooked.


Understanding how the turkeys use their totally different muscle teams helps bakers to not overcook them: The white breast meat is made up of fast-twitch muscle tissue, that are activated solely in brief bursts of exertion.

“Those types of muscles are generally low in connective tissue, low in fat and very strong. And what that means is that it’s relatively easy to overcook them,” López-Alt mentioned.

The darkish leg and thigh meat, nonetheless, consists of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which the turkey makes use of extra often, so the darkish meat has much more connective tissue, which requires larger temperatures to be totally cooked.

Elegant Thanksgiving Dinner

Elegant Thanksgiving Dinner

The writer additionally sympathized with bakers due to the geometric complexities of the turkey in the context of the finite limitations of the roasting pan.

“It would be difficult to design a worse tool for roasting a turkey than a roasting pan because you’re taking a problem that already exists and making it even worse,” López-Alt famous.

The turkey cooks erratically as a result of the typical roasting pan covers the backside of the turkey (aka the legs and thighs), thereby shielding it from the warmth, whereas the breast is on prime of the pan, exposing it extra to the sizzling oven temperatures.

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

A easy answer is swapping the roasting pan with a baking sheet with the turkey on both a V-shaped rack or on a heated pizza stone, as a result of then the warmth will radiate by way of the backside of the sheet to assist the legs and thighs cook dinner faster.

Another extra unconventional different is to chop the turkey earlier than you bake it, both through the use of a method known as “spatchcocking,” the place the spine is eliminated to ensure that the turkey to lay flat or by asking your pleasant neighborhood butcher to do it for you, with the final objective of the turkey cooking evenly.


Even although the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking the turkey at 165 levels, this will dry out the breast meat, so despite the fact that micro organism can be killed instantaneously at 165 levels Fahrenheit, you may as well destroy an equal quantity just by heating it slower at 150 levels — so long as your turkey breast stays at that temperature for roughly 4 minutes, in accordance to NPR.

Consider additionally including salt, as a result of this will loosen a few of the proteins in the meat fibers that tighten throughout regular cooking, permitting the turkey to maintain onto extra moisture, so it stays juicier, per NPR.


But at the finish of the day, even when the turkey doesn’t come out good, it’s okay.

“As long as the turkey has got people around the table, then it’s done its job no matter how dry it is,” López-Alt promised.

Click right here for useful how-to hints from López-Alt.