Turkey is low in fat and loaded with protein, which is probably one of the reasons its popularity has soared over the past few decades. In 1970, after all, your average American ate only about 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of turkey each year, and about half of that was around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nowadays, turkeys are more likely to be eaten year-round -- only 29 percent are gobbled down during the holiday season [source: The National Turkey Federation].
But cooking turkey is no joke. It has to be done properly or you can have a ticking time bomb promising disaster on your hands. So to ensure any turkeys you cook up for holiday guests aren't going to make them sick as a dog or set off a smoke alarm, stick to the following tips.
Let's start with the pan you're going to cook the turkey in. Cheap disposable aluminum ones might look good to someone on a budget, but they can easily buckle under the weight of a full-grown bird. Talk about a catastrophe -- your guests are not going to be pleased if they find out their meal hit the floor, and you'll have to waste time and energy mopping up the mess. Better to shell out some cash and get a reusable pan that's more robust. Also, make sure it's not too big or you could burn your hands when you pull it out of the oven.
Apart from run-of-the-mill cooking mishaps like burning the bird, on the next page we'll look at some other pitfalls that can turn a fantastic holiday dinner into a full-blown catastrophe.