Best way to cook a turkey in this situation?

Hey all…
I will be cooking early thanksgiving dinner on Monday… And just found out that it’s the same day as an afternoon class! Even if I take off a little early… The turkey will have to be unattended for two to three hours with people eating about two hours after that. There is nobody who can check on it or watch it for that time. ACK what to do? Could I start cooking it and leave it at 250 for three hours and then crank up the heat when I get back? I’ve never cooked a turkey that way before but would it work? All advice appreciated.

Out of all the people who will be actually eating the turkey, not one of them can watch it for a few hours?

Why does it have to be watched? Is it going to do tricks or something?

Fry it. A 16 lb bird will be done in under an hour plus another 15 minutes or so to get the frying oil up to temp. Would easily be ready within the 2 hour window you have after class.

Assumes, of course, you have turkey frying apparatus or are willing to purchase and familiarize yourself with it, outdoor space to fry a turkey safely, and the weather outdoors is cooperating. Also, assumes you have nothing else you need to prepare during that period because a frying turkey needs to be watched (mostly for safety). Now, before you go out and buy a turkey fryer, consider what else you might cook in a pot big enough to hold a 16 lb. turkey plus enough oil to fry it, and when you might use this at any other time of the year. I think fried turkey is delicious, as long as someone else is willing to put the effort and money and bear the risk.

The bird can be left unattended. Basting a turkey is not only not necessary, it is not recommended. I personally love cooking most meats at around 250° then finishing very hot (475°). You get more collagen breakdown in the areas that have collagen, with makes it very yummy and moist. Ovens are inherently and immensely safer than turkey fryers.

Google Look Bags. They’re the bomb and will reduce cooking time.

This is THE answer.

The fastest way to cook a turkey is with nuclear weapons.

Sure, the turkey won’t be evenly cooked, you might not be able to find all the pieces, and the pieces you do find may be radioactive, but you know the old saying – you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs!

Only, the OP wants to cook a turkey, not eggs.

If I’m reading this right, you’re saying you only have two hours to cook a turkey?

Spatchcock it

No there is all day to cook the turkey… But I will have to be at class for two and a half hours in the middle of the day with nobody to watch the turkey… Except for six cats.

I was gonna say, spatchcock and go high-heat, not low heat. My favorite way to cook turkey. I think it makes a juicier and tastier bird, even though one would think low and slow would do that.

But, yeah, if you wanted to, I’d have no issue with putting the oven down to 250 or 225 or whatever when you’re gone and coming back to return it to temp. Unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t want to leave their dwelling with anything on on their stove or oven. (Which is reasonable, but I’m not one of those people.)

Can the cats open the oven? If so, then unattended cooking might not work. Otherwise, low and slow until about 15°-20°F before it’s done, take it out of the oven, set oven to incinerate, place back in oven. While waiting for oven to get up to temperature, consider brushing the skin with some melted butter or, for even more oomph, herb-infused melted butter.

Can you set your oven to start cooking while you are at class?

Here are instructions that you can change up - high heat before you go to school then switch to low heat before you leave so it can cook while you’re gone. The method is down towards the end.

A few years ago when we were pressed for time, we bought a smoked turkey breast (from a local turkey farm) that just need heated up in the oven. It was delicious, though pricey.

I’ve done exactly this when I had to cook a turkey and wasn’t going to be around to kick things off. Most ovens have a “delay start setting”, but be sure to test it out first to make sure it works properly (and that you know how to set it so that it does work properly)! I had never used mine before, so I wanted to be certain I wasn’t going to mess the whole thing up.

My mom has been cooking her turkey days or weeks before Thanksgiving, carving it up, putting it in freezer bags with chicken broth (flat, so a fairly thin layer in several bags) then heating it up again on Thanksgiving day, covered in gravy. IMHO the freezing in broth tenderizes the turkey and covering it in gravy when you re-heat keeps it from over-cooking. I generally do not like roast turkey but I will eat this because it’s very moist and delicious!

A cursory Googling reveals some techniques for pre-cooking and refrigerating. You could do that too if you have the room.

I used to roast turkey low and slow all the time. An hour at 350°, then drop the temp to 200° and let it go all night. Never had a fail.

Now that I have a smoker, I don’t roast turkey any longer. Yum!

Easier to buy a cooked turkey. You can usually order them from grocery stores/catering companies places like that.