Cooking for Thanksgiving - roasting a turkey

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Nov 13, 2007.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    I didn't really want to hijack earllogjam's other thread, but wanted to share my "secret" for a perfectly roasted turkey. This method only works for a non-stuffed bird. You really should use the roasting times as guideline only; a pop-up timer or meat thermometer is really essential.

    Be sure the turkey is completely thawed, and that you have checked both cavities and removed neck and giblets. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out with cool water; pat dry.

    (Optional step: gently lift the skin, starting at the base of the breast, and dust lightly with your favorite mix of poultry seasoning - I use garlic, black pepper, a bit of each sage and basil). Don't use salt under the skin!!!

    Rub the entire outside of the skin with oil or butter (not margarine - olive oil or any other cooking oil is fine). Calculate the time needed to cook the bird: approximately 22 minutes per pound for a small bird (up to about 12 pounds), 20 minutes per pound for a medium bird (up to about 18 pounds), and 18 minutes per pound for a very large bird (19 or more pounds). Set a kitchen timer for the approximate time, put the bird in the oven (breast side up), and turn it on to 425 degrees. Cook at that temperature until the bird just begins to brown (usually about 20 minutes) then quickly remove from the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil, put back in the oven, and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Do not baste. Check the temperature at the last 40 minutes and the last 20 minutes. It's done when the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and breast is 165 degrees.

    Remove from oven and let it sit, covered, for about 10 or 15 minutes before carving. That way, you don't burn your hands, and there's some actual chemistry involved in letting it rest before carving. The proteins reabsorb some of the liquids, so the meat is juicier if you don't cut it immedately.

    Most "roasting guides" tell you to cook it at 325 the whole time, to cover at the beginning and brown at the end, and to baste periodically. I've discovered that browning quickly at the beginning allows more of the "roasty" flavor to permeate the meat, and covering at the end rather than at the beginning keeps it moister, and the hot oven at the start also helps to keep the meat from drying out.

    Basting doesn't really keep it moist, but allows the oven to cool a bit each time. A good steady temperature allows a turkey to cook more quickly, more evenly, and with less drying.
     
  2. Not_Punny

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    Thanks, DC -- sounds good.

    Makes sense to cover at the end.

    Gotcha re not putting salt UNDER the skin, but how about on top of the skin?
     
  3. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    Thanks DC. Will give it a try.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    That's ok, the skin will keep it from drying out the meat.

    The two really important things, though - cook it HOT until it just begins to brown; cover it and cook at the lower temp, but DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN during most of the cooking time. That's really the two essentials. I've been cooking turkeys this way for over a decade, and everyone who's tasted it says it's the best!
     
  5. Not_Punny

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    Got it! I'm gonna give this a shot!

    Any tips for stuffing?

    Oh -- I often cook several side dishes in the oven. Problem is, that would involve opening and closing the oven door. Do you have two ovens or do you avoid making oven-prepared side dishes?

    (I don't mean to be a bother, I just never had the task of cooking the turkey before!)
     
  6. DC_DEEP

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    I'm guessing that most of those side dishes need to cook about 20 to 30 minutes, right?

    Put a couple of them in when you check the turkey during the last 40 minutes (if the turkey's done by then, you take it out and finish your side dishes). You'll need to check on the turkey again 20 minutes before it's "scheduled" time, so of course, the oven has to open then, too. And don't forget, the turkey will stay scalding hot for a LONG time when it comes out of the oven, and really should sit for 10 or 15 minutes (minimum) before you carve it, anyway. 20 minutes of "rest time" wouldn't hurt, so a casserole and the dinner rolls could cook while the turkey rests, and while you carve it. It does take some planning, but you really can get everything to come out at just the right time.
     
  7. YourAvgGuy

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    DC,

    What time shall I arrive for dinner? :)
     
  8. nudeyorker

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    :cool:


     
  9. DC_DEEP

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    Actually, I usually prepare a Thanksgiving luncheon, served about 1 PM. You are welcome (seriously.) I will most likely be cooking enough for 12, and will most likely have no more than 4 eating.

    The menu will most likely be roast turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, homemade dinner rolls, green beans almondine, possibly another green vegetable, and homemade pies - pumpkin and pecan. There may be additions, but likely no deletions.

    Yeah. Join us!

    Oh, and serving mid-day rather than in the evening is much nicer to the tummy!
     
  10. DC_DEEP

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    This seemed to be an appropriate time to mention: hotmilf, your box is full!
     
  11. YourAvgGuy

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    Sounds delicious, DC and very, very tempting. If I were closer and my family did not engage in ceremony at this time, I would strongly consider taking you up on your offer. You sound like a fabulous cook.

    Maybe when I am in the DC area I will hit you up and see if you can recreate such a hearty meal. :)
     
  12. rob_just_rob

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    For a "100%, strict vegetarian", you seem very knowledgeable about roasting turkeys, DC. ;)
     
  13. DC_DEEP

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    Bwahaha, rob. I know that you know why I can eat meat and still be a vegetarian!
     
  14. DC_DEEP

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    I understand about your ceremonies and rituals.

    You don't have to rely on Thanksgiving to visit me... we just have to schedule ahead to make sure we aren't travelling.

    Note to all: No drop-in surprise guests!
     
  15. SpoiledPrincess

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    My perfect recipe for a roast turkey, I invite my mum over and let her cook it :)
     
  16. HazelGod

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    Sounds like a lot of work...I say drop that gobbler into some hot peanut oil, crack open a cold one and watch the first half of the Cowboys getting their asses handed to them! :biggrin1:
     
  17. snoozan

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    i brine my turkey for 24 hours in a solution of saltwater with some herbs and spices added. it works like a charm!
     
  18. juice

    juice New Member

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    Best dressing ever. I got this from my fiancee's mom. It's amazing.

    5-6 slices of bacon, sliced
    1 onion, chopped
    3-4 stalks of celery chopped

    Brown bacon and cook the onion and celery until the onion is clear.

    1 loaf of bread. Not fresh, but like 2-3 day old bread. Torn into peices. 1/2 cup of margerine or butter. Toss it in with the bread and bacon/onion/celery mixture.

    Sprinkle 4-5 tablespoons of poultry seasoning, mix.

    Salt and pepper to taste.

    TADA! DONE!

    Stuff in bird...

    So easy...yet so so so so so so so so good.
     
  19. naughty

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    Workin' up a good pot of mad!

    When you are in the area you and LaTOnya better let me know. I seem to be batting zero with my schedule on meeting folks! :mad:
     
  20. DC_DEEP

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    I'm excited - this weekend, I get to meet Snoozie for the first time, and see Bliss again. Woohoo!
     
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