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Turkey Timeline

Today is our Thanksgiving dinner because my husband works tomorrow. My turkey is going in the roaster oven and smells divine. Dinner is planned for 3:00.

I hate blogs that tell you what to do, but my turkeys are always amazing so I’m going to make an exception. Besides, someday my kids will want to know how Mom made the turkey. Here it is.

I bought a 16 pound frozen turkey and put it in the bottom of the fridge Friday. I’m feeding nine people, 3 of which are children. The guideline is a pound per adult and half a pound for a kid. I have two teenagers so they’ve been counted as needing two pounds. If you feed a teenager, you understand. Really, I only need 10.5 pounds but I want leftovers.

The guideline for cooking is 20 minutes per pound, and the guideline for thawing is a day for every four pounds but 5 days later, and there were still some ice crystals inside so 4 days wouldn’t have been enough. I can say, though, that once it’s thawed, you have four days to use it. I figure a week is a safe timeframe if you have a frozen turkey. Of course payday plays a role in that too. I don’t know squat about fresh turkeys so it is what it is.

Anyway, the turkey was thawed so at 8:00, I got up and preheated the roaster oven to 450. If it were in the oven, I’d go to 500 but my roaster doesn’t go that high. Don’t fret. It won’t stay this hot all day.

I removed the plastic thing holding the legs closed. That’s probably one of the hardest parts on some turkeys. I had to cut away some of the fat, and then I had to wiggle and pinch and I finally broke it free. Then I pulled the neck out, set it aside, and dug deep for the bag of giblets. It’s in there, somewhere. If you can’t find it, check the neck hole.

Then you carefully loosen the membranes that old the skin to the turkey. Be very gentle or you’ll rip the skin. I sprinkle handfuls of Mrs. Dash into my other hand after that, though you can use any seasoning blend you wish, and I rub it on the meat, under the skin. Try as best as you can to get into the leg area too but there won’t be a lot of room to move so just get what you can. Then take three pats of butter. Put one under the skin in the body area and one in each leg area. You can use margarine, but butter is better. [channels inner Paula Deen]

You can stuff the bird at this point but I don’t. I use aromatics. This time, it was half an onion, a lemon sliced in half, a stalk of celery broken in half, and a carrot broken in half. Give it all a rinse but don’t worry about removing skin and stems because they won’t be eaten anyway. Then stick it in the cavity. I also used a stick of margarine in there this year because I followed someone else’s advice and tried to grease the skin with it but it didn’t work and I didn’t know what else to do with it. I’ll let you know…

Then take oil – olive oil is best but any oil will do if you don’t have any – and massage the outside of the turkey’s skin with it. When the whole bird is covered and the roaster or oven is preheated, you’ll put the bird in to start cooking. Use an oven-proof rack in the bottom of your roasting pan/oven (I use a small cooling rack that my husband’s ex left behind many years ago) to lift the bird a bit, so the bottom can crisp. Put the bird in and cook…

After a half hour, tent the bird with foil and decrease the heat to 325. Subtract a half hour from your total cooking time, because you just did that, and wait.

A half hour before you’re ready to remove the bird from the oven, take the tent off. Then when you remove the bird from the oven, you’re going to tent it with foil again and let it sit for 30-60 minutes. This will help the juices settle in the meat and not on the platter.

There’s plenty of other things to tackle in the meantime – gravy, dressing, potatoes, etc. – but I’ll leave you to google for those, but this is how I cook a turkey that my family can’t get enough of. That includes my mom and she hates poultry.



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