Quick! Help me cook a turkey!

So for some strange reason yesterday morning, I decided I wanted to cook a turkey this weekend for the first time ever. So I’ve invited a few people over (people that, incidentally, are willing to eat anything I put in front of them :D). I bought a 13.5 lb turkey last night and stuck it in the refrigerator to start defrosting, and bought one of those Reynolds roasting bags.

I want to do stuffing in the bird, not outside of it. Yes, I know there’s a chance of salmonella poisoning doing in that way, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Any recipes? Tips? Tricks?

Basically, what have I gotten myself into?

Don’t do this.

Good move.

I’ve made stuffing from scratch, but it’s easier to use a boxed mix. I like Mrs. Cubbison’s. Boil the giblets (neck, liver, heart, gizzard – these will be found either in the neck cavity or the body cavity) in water. This makes the stock you will use in the stuffing, so use enough water for your stock (accounting for evaporation).

Chop up some celery and onion. The box will say how much to use. I usually play it by ear. Get out some butter to warm up. You’ll need to melt it soon.

After the giblets have boiled for a while, remove them from the stock. I don’t like the gizzard in the gravy, so I add it to the stuffing. Chop up the giblets and the neck meat, reserving the liver for the gravy. You can also save the heart for the gravy, which I like to do.

Mix the stuffing mix, chopped neck meat, chopped, gizzard (and heart, if you like), chopped celery, chopped onion, melted butter, and the required amount of stock in a large bowl.

Now, you don’t really want to stuff a cold turkey with warm stuffing. You should let it cool, and then stuff the body cavity and neck cavity. It will be messy. Shake some flour in the roasting bag. Throw a few lengths of celery into the bag to keep the bird from sitting directly on the bag. Slather the bird with butter, and sprinkle a little salt an just a little black pepper on it. (You can omit the pepper if you want to.) Some people advocate putting butter between the skin and the meat. You can do that if you like, but most of the time I don’t. Close the bag with the included tie and put the package into a roasting pan. (I know some people have real roasting pans. I just get the disposable aluminum ones.) Cut a few slits in the top of the bag to vent.

IMPORTANT: Use a meat thermometer. Don’t trust the pop-up things many turkeys have.

Roast at the recommended temperature for the recommended time. Keep an eye on the thermometer so that you don’t over-cook or under-cook.

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest. While it’s resting, suck out a few ups of drippings. I usually take as much of the drippings as I can, and let it sit so that the grease rises to the top. Use the non-grease drippings for the gravy. A grease separator is useful here. (That’s a measuring cup with a spout on the bottom.) Now, a good country gravy is made with grease; but for turkey gravy I use mostly the juices. You can use some grease to make a roux. When you’ve made the roux, add the juices to it and stir very frequently so there are no lumps. Add milk and keep stirring until it’s thickened. Taste for the proper saltiness, and add some black pepper. I’ve always gotten compliments on my gravy, so I guess I’ve been doing it right.

That’s all from memory. I may do the details differently when I actually start cooking; but that’s the gist of it.

One more thing: Be sure to put the turkey into the bag and pan breast-up. My mom liked my turkey so much that she decided to use a bag one year. But she wasn’t paying attention and put the bird in upside-down. No nice, crispy, golden-brown skin on the breast… but the meat was sure juicy! :smiley:

For best turkey, brine it. You can prolly find instructions online, but it adds wonderful taste. (The alternative is to buy kosher turkey, since they’re pre-brined, cost a li’l more, but that’s too late for you now.)

I know your husband/wife can be annoying at times, but for heaven sakes, DON’T COOK HIM/HER!!! :smiley:
And try deep-frying it. :wink:

I bet it was moist though. What I do is cook the turkey for the first hour and a half leaned over on one wing, then lean it way over on the other wing for another hour and a half or so and then finish it off with the breast up to darken the skin.

I’m not a fan of stuffing in the bird, not because of salmonella but the turkey just isn’t as moist. Plus, it takes longer to cook. I loosely stuff the cavity with a mirepoix. YMMV.

How to brine a turkey.

I haven’t had any problems with a dry bird. Cooking it in a roasting bag really does work. Plus the stuffing gets saturated, which I like. Also, cooking in the bag reduces cooking time.

I’ve been cooking turkeys since I was ten, and haven’t gotten salmonella yet.

My turkey method involves vermouth (I’m Irish…pretty much everything I cook involves alcohol) and is based on an Austrailian Woman’s Weekly recipe.

You stuff your turkey- I use a mixture of breadcrumbs, finely chopped pecans, egg yolk, diced onion, butter and orange zest, with just enough orange juice to make it a nice consistency, and put it at the neck end, with a whole orange in the cavity

Then you place slices of streaky (American) bacon over the breast

Then you place turkey on a rack in a roasting dish, and pour Vermouth (I use Noilly Prat) and stock ino the base of the roasting dish- I use 500mls total. Cover the whole thing with foil to stop the moisture escaping until the final 25mins of the cooking period.

For the last 25 mins, take off the foil, baste the turkey with a mixture of the cooking juices and turn up the heat.

The result is a deliciously moist turkey that is still golden brown.

The Australian Women’s Weekly website has lots of great turkey recipes- I’d suggest that would be a good place to look.
Here is similar one to the one I use but with cranberries and pecans instead of orange and pecans.

FIRST, look in your oven and arrange your oven racks so you will have room for a turkey and a pan of something else at the same time. You’ll thank me for this later.

To make stuffing, you need DRY bread. Take some bread (real bread, not anything with “Wonder” in the brand name) right now, and tear it into dice or slightly bigger pieces and let it sit out in the kitchen in a pan overnight so it will get stale for tomorrow morning. If you can possible lay your hands on some actual cornbread, use that about half-and-half.

Tomorrow morning, saute about half of a well-chopped onion in butter till the onion clarifies and add that to the bread mix. Also add: chopped apples, walnuts, chopped celery, some parsley, some salt and pepper, and liberal amounts of dried sage. Stir all this stuff together.

Now listen very carefully to this next part: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes: 425 Degrees.

Now, remove anything you find in the body or neck cavity of the bird and toss it into a pan of water and start simmering it.

Shove the stuffing in the turkey. Firm, but not packed. You should sing this rhyme while you do so, to the tune of “Frere Jacques”:

Next Thanksgiving, next Thanksgiving–
Save your bread, save your bread!
Shove it up a turkey, shove it up a turkey–
Eat the bird. Eat the bird.
-The Munzer Family of northern New Jersey

If you can get the rest of your family to help sing it, round style, it works even better.

Now close the flaps of neck skin and pin the turkey’s butt together using skewers, string, toothpicks, whatever works.

Place the turkey on a shallow rack in a roasting pan.

Rub butter over the breast. Turn the wings under, or tie them across the breast. Put a meat thermometer into a meaty part of the thigh (don’t hit the bone).

Reverently place the turkey in the overn

TURN THE HEAT DOWN to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The high heat at the outset will crisp the breast skin and lock in the turkey juices so they do not frizzle away.

Your turkey will be ready to come out of the oven when the thermometer reads 180 to 185 degrees. It needs to rest for about twenty minutes before you carve it–the perfect time to make gravy.

You should tent the turkey breast with some foil during the last hour.

Baste every half hour at least until done. You need something turkey flavored to baste your bird with (you need a clean brush to do this with.) Luckily you’ve got just the item–your giblets, heart, liver are simmering merrily away right there on the stove top. For the first hour or so, just swipe some turkey stock to baste with. You can add water to the giblets pan if it starts to run low. As grease begins to cook out of the roasting bird, you can use the stuff in the bottom of the pan.

Roasting bag? What, someone thinks the Pilgrims got roasting bags from the Native Americans?!? Sheesh.

AuntPam has some good suggestions, except for the basting part. Although this has been done for ages, most chefs and good cooks admit it really does nothing to keep the turkey moist or tender, and at worst, will screw up the temperature in the oven while you have the oven door open and baste it. Take a look at the Butterball website - a great place to get tips and recipes for leftovers - their Turkey Tortellini Soup is a classic that we make every Christmas from frozen Thanksgiving leftovers!

As a turkey newbie/vegetarian/lacking family examples or guidance, I followed Alton Brown’s directions and it turned out perfect. Link: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season1/Turkey/TurkeyTranscript.htm

How to roast a turkey by Delia Smith, Britain’s Queen of home cooking:


For bonus marks, her method involves bacon. BACON.


How did it turn out?

It turned out great! I cooked the turkey upside-down in a bag, and it was incredibly moist and tender. I didn’t end up with as many leftovers as I had hoped. :smiley:

Husband has declared it a success and is strongly suggesting that we cook a 20 lb turkey in the next few weeks…

Good Eats, Season 1: Romancing the Bird.

Good tips, great turnout.

Also, like Alton, I am VERY against cooking a turkey with stuffing. Just asking for trouble.

Hey, I said not to do that! :mad: :stuck_out_tongue:

Nah, it’s all good. When mom did it accidentally, it really was the most moist, tender turkey I’ve had. I missed the crispy skin, though.