Padma Lakshmi: How to Cook a Perfect Turkey

Plus: her awesome Thanksgiving advice for how to avoid family fighting!

Padma Lakshmi visited The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week and—in just 2 minutes—gave all of us some very useful and solid Thanksgiving tips. (Talk about a quickfire!)

First of all, the Top Chef host had a lot to say on the subject of the bird of the hour. "You want to soak the turkey in buttermilk—not milk—buttermilk that’s salted and sugared," she said, explaining that the buttermilk's enzymes will help break down the dark meat. She recommends soaking the turkey for three days in a long, tall vessel that will allow it to be immersed feet-first.

Next, stuff the bird with apples and oranges which Padma says will help get rid of the gaminess. And plan ahead by cooking your turkey the night before. Padma reveals that she and her family always start the cooking at midnight and end it at around 6 AM. "It’s exciting, getting up early in the morning and making sure that turkey is beautiful. And that way, the hard part is done," she says. "I never understand when people are cooking turkey after everyone gets there, and it’s like a nail-biting experience."

And after all of this is done, Padma says you will be left with a lot of juices--that you can then put to good use! "Don’t be afraid of the juice when you’re done. Take that juice, add some butter and flour to it and that’s your natural homemade gravy," she advises.

Finally, Padma even has some unusual but excellent advice for your Thanksgiving dinner guest list. "Invite some strangers, or mix up your invite list," she says. Why? "Thanksgiving is always really hard because you’ve got all this family fighting and stuff. It’s nice to have a varied guest list so there are strangers that your family would maybe be embarrassed about arguing in front of. So they’d be on good behavior!"

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