How to Roast a Turkey!!

Thaw your turkey! Don't forget! If you're using a frozen turkey from the grocery store, follow THESE (new and improved) guidelines for safely thawing in the refrigerator. I'm  thawing mine Friday. I like to allow an extra day, as the refrigerated thawed turkey is safe for a few days after it's thawed.  Slightly early is better than slightly late, in this case. You want the turkey totally thawed on Wednesday.

The turkey I usually buy is the cheapest I can find. I got one this year for $.33/lb. Not the cheapest EVER, but I suppose it will do. It's hard to find cheap food in Dallas. Even Aldi's turkeys were $1/lb.
I bought this roasting pan last year at WalMart: they're $8.88 this year. It's pretty deep, has a rack, and is very sturdy. I don't have to put a cookie sheet under it to carry it.

My demo will be using a chicken, but if you like, pretend it's a small, flat-chested turkey.Preheat your oven to 350.

First, rinse your thawed turkey inside and out.

Remove giblets/neck from the large cavity. On turkeys the neck is usually in here.

On a turkey, the little paper packet of giblets is usually in the neck cavity, so get that out.

This is the chicken packet. The turkey giblet packet is, understandably, much larger and usually square.

Put your "turkey" on the rack in your pan. Yes, I'm aware that this is a dish with out a rack. Ignore that. (OPTIONAL: If you have prepared and cooled your stuffing, stuff your turkey now) Baste with melted butter or olive oil (use a folded up paper towel if you don't have a basting brush). Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. The paprika browns up nicely during cooking. Some people salt the cavity, too, but I don't. Most turkeys come trussed with a wire holder on the legs. If you un-attach it to stuff your turkey, replace it. Add one inch of water to the bottom of the pan.

Make your foil tent with some gigantic foil!

If you only have regular-sized foil, fold it together to make one large sheet.

Form a tent over the turkey, so the foil isn't touching the turkey. Fasten well at the edges.
Place in the center of the oven. Check your roasting time on this chart. Set the timer for half-way though the cooking time.

Here are the giblets, in the bowl. More on those in the next post. The turkey neck is like 50 times bigger than this chicken one. No joke.

When your half-way timer goes off, take your turkey out!  You can tell from the colored juices in the cavity that it's no where near done, which one would expect having only half-cooked it. *wink*. If your turkey is stuffed, you can't see these, and it doesn't matter.

Use your turkey baster or a ladle to get the juices from the pan and re-baste your turkey. Don't worry that it's washing off the seasonings. After you've thoroughly basted the whole thing, re-season. Re-cover with the foil and set your timer to go off an hour before you expect the turkey to be finished..

When the timer goes off, take the turkey out, remove the foil.

Put the turkey back in the oven and roast until the timer goes off.

mmm, look at that "turkey"!!!   Let sit for about five minutes.

Use some things like these, or two meat forks, to lift your turkey onto it's serving plate.

Viola! let this sit AT LEAST 15 minutes before carving. Just ignore it, to the best of your ability, until the rest of the food is done and set out.

You'll have all of this in your pan. WOW!! If you are using stuffing mix, strain this and use instead of butter and water in your stuffing mix. Put the stuffing in a pan and pop in the oven for a bit to toast up the top, like homemade!! 

See? Stuffing mix needs water and butter. You can use your broth as-is to substitute for both. Yummy!
If you have stuffed your turkey previously, strain this broth and pop into the freezer ASAP to use for making gravy.

A word about my roasting pan: I bought it last year at WalMart, and it came with the rack, the baster, and those two gigantic turkey-lifter things. It's wonderful!!! I recommend it, or something similar, but they are not necessary for a successful and delicious turkey. Again, $8.88 for that whole set.

Here's last year's turkey....Turkey 2009 (made w/ the fancy roasting pan)

and Turkey 2008 (made with a disposable foil roasting pan)

Enjoy! Next post, we'll talk giblets. And, perhaps, stuffing.


christene said...

a masterpiece of a tutorial! i am looking forward to talking giblets. i love them, and will add a whole package of them to my chicken soup, just so i can hog them all to myself and eat them. mmmm. organ meat!

momtofatdogs said...

I wish I'd have had this about 25 years ago! The very first thanksgiving turkey I ever cooked was the year after my Mother died. I was 21, and had a 2 year old. had the whole family over......I did NOT know there were giblets/neck etc IN the turkey.

Let's just say, I have learned a LOT in 25 years.

Gonna save your tutes for my girls.



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