How do you prepare your Turkey? - 2022

Just looking for favorite tips and tricks. I have a method I use to cook that I plan to stick with, but I was thinking about the prep stage. . . I still have some time to do a dry brine. . . what do you guys do? Marinade? Seasonings?

I’ll probably just be sprinkling salt over the top, then baking at 375 under some foil until it comes close to temperature then uncovering until 165 degrees.

I’ve tried brining, but I’ve given up on it as more work than it’s worth. I put butter under the skin, salt & pepper, and put some apple, onion, & lemon in the body cavity, since I usually don’t stuff the bird. Then I basically follow the butterball recipe - 325 degree oven, thermometer in thigh, roast 2/3 then cover, roast until 180 in the thigh. Remove & rest 15 minutes before carving.

Yeah, from my experience it seems like too much trouble to brine. I coat in oil and spices, then in 500 degree over for 30 minutes, then add foil triangle over breasts and reduce to 350 degrees and cook till a probe placed deep in thigh reaches 165 or so.

We get a freshly killed turkey from a local turkey farm. My gf picks it up and takes it to her mom’s house the day before thanksgiving. Her mom takes it from there. We show up a few hours before the bird is ready and begin drinking.

We also have turkey dinners throughout the year. In the spring/summer I will deep fry a turkey. Whenever they’re available I buy a very small bird from the turkey farm and spatchcock it on the grill.

I sit across the table from him and, after a little small talk and chit-chat, I look him straight in the eye and say, in a calm tone, “Listen, I know you don’t want to hear this, but in a few minutes I’m going to kill you, and then I’m going to cook you and then eat you. So we can do this the easy way or the hard way. but there’s simply no way out of this for you, old friend.” Generally, they accept their fate, and set their necks on the chopping block for me. This is the most effective way I’ve found to prepare my turkey.

But seriously, folks, I’ve found that slow and low is the way to go. I slather the skin with crushed garlic and tarragon, fill the cavity with mushrooms, onions and carrots, put a little water in the roasting pan so the skin doesn’t stick to the pan, cover and roast at 325 for an hour then shut the oven off for a couple of hours. Then I take off the cover and roast at high heat for an hour and let it sit a while before serving.

I think “killing them softly” is a little better way to go. They should never see it coming and never be stressed about it. It’s over before they know it.

Carefully separate the breast skin from the meat, mix up a goodly amount of Irish butter with some herbs, and stuff in as far as I can reach. Salt the skin. I usually stuff the bird, but not this year. Put the bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Preheat the oven up to 425 or so. Tent the breast. Shove the bird in the oven. After 15-20 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 and roast until done. Use the drippings for gravy. Tried and true for over 30 years.

I brined a bird once. It came out saltier than i like, and the skin was rubbery instead of crisp. Never again.

I but a large turkey. It’s festive.

I leave the turkey out of the fridge, someplace cool, the night before. The warmer it is, the faster it cooks and the less it will dry out. Often it’s ~50F in my garage, which is perfect. Too cool for my fresh turkey to spoil overnight. If i don’t have a cool space, I’ve put it in a cooler so it doesn’t warm up too much.

Stuff the turkey with a hot stuffing. Truss it up, and put it on a rack in a roasting pan and start it at 425F until it begins to brown, 15-30 minutes. Then reduce the heat. Any temp works, and i might fiddle with the temp so it cooks for about as much time as I have. :wink: If the wing tips start to look too brown, cover them loosely with a bit of foil. Ditto the breast.

Meanwhile simmer the neck and giblets with a lot of salt to make broth.

Remove the turkey when a thermometer in the center of the stuffing reads ~150F. Let the bird rest in a warm place (the back of the stove, or even the oven, which is now off) for about an hour. Over this time, the interior temperature will rise as heat moves from the exterior to the interior. Everything will have been held above 145F for an hour. (Yes, I’ve poked the bird all over with my thermopen. Even the exterior is still plenty hot to be safe at the end of the hour.)

While it’s resting, use the broth and pan drippings to make gravy.

Remove the stuffing to a bowl, and bring the whole turkey to the table to serve.

This gives you moist juicy breast meat and fully cooked thighs and stuffing, with crispy brown skin.

For a smaller bird, even a goose, i do the high temp cooking starting with the bird on one side for 15 min, and flipping to cook the other for about 15 min, and then place it on its back when i reduce the temperature. That works better to brown the skin on the thighs and back, but it’s too much of a hassle with a large stuffed turkey.

I don’t like turkey or Thanksgiving, and I don’t cook any more, but when I did: The baking bag. Dust it with a bit of flour. Throw in some chopped onions/celery/carrot, grease the bird and get it in there, and bake per directions on the box. It browns beautifully, makes tons of juice for gravy, and is falling off the bone moist and delicious (even to me). The last 5 years I did the cooking that way, I kicked myself for ever bothering any other way - baking bag!.. I salted and peppered it and dusted the turkey with sage . Mostly for the smell. A great dense hunk of protein is going to be a great dense hunk of protein no matter how you try to flavor it. The dressing provides the real taste, and the side dishes.

I don’t like turkey, so I make two smoked ducks for Thanksgiving. I soak them in a mixture of salt water and orange marinade, and slowly roast them on a Weber kettle grill over the day, with chunks of oak among the charcoal.

Tastes vary. Any meat that actually falls off the bone is way overcooked to my tastes. It’s become stew, not roast. Beef is okay in stew, for variety, but poultry is soooo much better roasted. Even turkey.

But of course, stew is always moist.

Yes! I’ve been using the baking bag for years after tasting my brother’s mother-in-law’s turkey. She said she just followed the directions on the bag. I put some onion and celery in the cavity and around the turkey, dust it with poultry seasoning, some premixed seasoning like Cavender’s, and follow the directions on the package.

Fair enough. But any white meat left over the next day will still be dry, whether the thing is cooked upside down, in a baking bag, stuffed with 5 pounds of butter, or baby-sat and basted every 10 minutes in the oven. YMMV. IMO this thing is at its best half an hour out of the oven, bursting with juiciness. Later, it’s just leftover turkey.

Naw, if you don’t overcook it to begin with, it’s not dry. Leftover turkey is good for about three days if you keep it tightly sealed and refrigerated. Oxidation is your enemy, though.

I like leftover turkey more than I like turkey freshly cooked. I’ve cooked a turkey, then carved and refrigerated it without eating any.

I make three piles as I carve. One for us to eat, one for the dogs, and one for soup.

My sister has cooked a whole turkey for her to have leftovers when i hosted Thanksgiving and cooked the turkey we would share hot. So she agrees with you.

Fwiw, a free range turkey has a lot more flavor than some of what appears in the supermarket.

I brine mine, then roast it in the oven at 300.

I loathe turkey. The Mister only liked white meat and hogged, yes, hogged all the white meat for himself (dinner and sandwiches for the next couple days, till there was just the carcass with brown slimy dark meat no one wanted.). Oh, we would give soup/turkey pot pie/turkey stew a try. Barf, we ordered pizza three days after the Big Fat Jolly Holiday.