Sunday, November 18, 2012

How To Cook A Turkey, Step By Step REPOST

Hi everyone.  It is that time of year again.  Planning your Thanksgiving menu, and cooking a delicious, juicy turkey!  Last year I composed this step by step tutorial.  I have heard so many young women say how they are afraid to cook a turkey!  My own two daughters included!  Well fear not.  It is one of the easiest things to make.  This post is a repeat of the same one I did two years ago. I hope this might help someone who has never attempted to make their own turkey.
Bon Appetit!
It's here.  My very first Virtual Cooking Class.  I hope that I am getting this posted in time to help those of you who may not ever have cooked your own turkey before.  Let's get started.  I was given a 13 pound turkey by my son in law, Jake.  The employees at the hospital were given these, and he gave it to me for my cooking class demonstration.  So if you have purchased a fresh turkey, you can just omit these first few steps.  But if you have a frozen turkey, you need to defrost it.  You can do this by placing it in the fridge for a few days, or you can use a cold water bath method, which is what I did.  Place entire turkey in packaging, into a large bowl, or clean sink of cold water.  Filling to the top.
You will want to drain the water out about every 30 minutes or so, refilling the sink with fresh cold water each time, until your bird is defrosted.  I did this for the better part of the afternoon, then wrapped the nearly defrosted turkey in a towel, still in package, and placed in large bowl in the fridge in preparation to cook, today.
Let's cook.  Turn your oven on to about 425 degrees.  Set your rack to the lowest position.  Unwrap turkey, and put into large bowl, or very clean sink, and run fresh cold water over bird, carefully washing both outside and inside.
Lifting wings, and checking for any unplucked feathers.  There will be a few, so pluck those by just pulling out!
See those little feathers underneath the wing?  Pull them out.  Remove the neck from neck cavity, and the giblets from other end.  These will be in a paper bag.  Just pull the bag out, and either discard, or rinse and place in pot with water to simmer for giblet gravy.
Place rinsed bird onto clean towel on countertop and blot dry inside and out with another clean towel.
If there is any fatty tissue pieces inside or near the cavities, remove this.
Once nice and dry, make sure you have all of your other ingredients on hand, and the roasting pan and rack ready to go.  If you don't have a rack, not to worry, just crinkle up some aluminum foil and place in bottom of pan like I did.  I didn't have a rack small enough for this pan.
Here are my veggies, herbs and citrus all washed and ready to go.
There are many different ways to cook a turkey.  I have tried lots of ways.  I like to do it this way, especially if I am not making stuffing and all of the trimmings.  This turkey is just going to be sliced up for sandwiches.
Drizzle olive oil over clean and dry bird,  rubbing into skin so that it reaches all areas.
 Once oiled generously, place into roasting pan, breast side up, and tuck wings up underneath bird.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper liberally.

Now cut your onions into quarters, and half the lemons and quarter the oranges.  Rough cut celery, tops included.
I love this butcher block!  My Mom gave it to me when she moved because it didn't fit right in her new kitchen.  Lucky me, it fits perfectly in mine.  It is on wheels, and it goes all over my kitchen while I work.  And one of my favorite things about it is the large removable bowl that rests just beneath this circle cut out of the center of the butcher block. You chop, and drop your trash right into the big bowl beneath.  Making cleanup a breeze!!!  It also has a groove in the the butcher block on one side for carving meats, and catching the juices.  LOVE this piece!!!  Thank you Mom!!!
Once you have all the veggies and citrus cut up, you are going to fill both cavities with this. Before putting lemons and oranges into cavity, squeeze some of juices out first into cavity and on and around turkey.  I don't cut my fresh herbs though.  I just tuck them into the cavities.  I picked fresh thyme, sage and rosemary this morning for this.
Oh, almost forgot to tell you about this neat product.  It is minced garlic that is prepackaged for convenience.  I usually have fresh garlic on hand.  And I keep tubes of minced garlic in the fridge too.  But this is also very good, and I find it at fresh & easy.  It is in above photo in the cello package. Just open up cello pak and add this in with all of the other veggies.
After stuffing all that you can into the cavities, you are going to push the fresh herbs in, and then tie the legs together.  I did this with dental floss.

With any leftover ingredients, I just fill the spaces in the corners of the roaster.  Isn't he looking pretty?    Easy stuff so far, right?
There he is all trussed up and ready to go into the oven.  But first pour a little chicken broth into pan.  Be careful, especially if you are doing a smaller bird, with a pan that is stuffed to the brim.  Pour slowly into the corners.  Oh about a cup or so.  Just eyeball it, no need to measure.
You are almost there.  Put the bird into the oven on lowest rack at about 425 degrees.
Leave it alone for 30 minutes.  Take out after 30 minutes, and tent bird loosely with aluminum foil that has been sprayed lightly with olive oil spray.  This is what the bird looks like after first 30
minutes on higher heat. 
The reason for covering the bird loosely in foil at this point, is to prevent it from over browning.  Now you are going to turn the oven down to 325 degrees, and put bird back into oven.  A general rule of thumb for cooking time is about 20 minutes per pound.  Or you can use an instant read thermometer and take bird out when temperature has reached 165 degrees.  For remainder of cooking time, open oven door and baste turkey with cooking juices about every 35 to 45 minutes or so.  Taking care each time to replace foil loosely over top of bird.
I let the grandkids use my turkey baster in the pool over the summer, and it was in the deck box outside, so I used a silicone pastry brush which works just fine to baste too.  You could also use a ladle or large spoon. Slide him back in there, letting a bird of this size cook about 3 hours or so.  I let this one go for 3 hours and 10 minutes. 
The way my Mom taught me to tell if the turkey is done is to poke the fatty part of the leg with a fork and if juices run clear, it is typically done.  If you are not confident with this method, then take a pot holder and jiggle the leg a little bit.  It should be very loose, and almost as if it may come apart from the bird.

If you look closely on the above photo, you can see that the leg is separating from the body of the turkey indicating that it is done.
So this bird is all finished cooking.  Look at the beautiful golden brown of the skin.

Remove turkey from oven, and place on stove top keeping it covered up with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before you begin to slice. It will stay hot, trust me!
To slice, I am old school, and use an electric knife.  Lift the bird out of the pan carefully onto a cutting surface.  Since I didn't have a rack or lifter, I used two heavy duty spatulas and removed it without any trouble.  Remove the veggies that were inside cavities and discard.
Remove legs by pulling out and away from the bird.  It should pop off very easily.  If you need to, take the knife to run it through any tendons that are keeping it from snapping off.  Set legs aside.  Wings most likely will come off almost by themselves.  They can also be easily removed, and set these aside with legs.  Now you will begin to slice the breast meat off of the turkey, starting on one side, then moving to the other.
The bird should slice through very easily, and by letting it set for 30 minutes beforehand, you won't have the juices running all over the board.  They stay in the bird, keeping it moist and delicious!
Just keep slicing until you get all of that nice white meat off the bone.
For the dark meat on the legs, I slip skin off, and then just use my hands to take the meatiest pieces off the bone.  The wings don't have much meat, so I eat that while I am working!!!  This is a messy job, so be sure you have a cute holiday apron to put on while you work!!!
I received this in the mail yesterday from a blogging friend Jann over at  have a daily cup from Mrs. Olson  
I love it Jann!!!!
There you have it.  How to cook at turkey from start to finish.  Since I am taking mine up the mountains with us the day after Thanksgiving for sandwiches, I didn't make any other dishes.  Of course juggling all of the holiday meal makes for more careful planning.  But if you are new to cooking, or new to cooking a turkey, I hope this helps.
A 13 pound bird should yield plenty of meat fora family of 6 or so.  In addition, I picked the carcass of any usable meat to use for a Turkey Pot Pie later in the weekend as well.  You could also save your carcass and place it in a ziplock bag and freeze it to use later for stock or soup.
The two bags are of scraps and are going into the trash.  The pieces in front is what I will use for a Turkey Pot Pie.
I sure hope this will help some of you to make your first turkey!  There is nothing to it!!!!
Thanks for joining me for my very first virtual cooking class.
Bon Appetit!!
XO  Kris


Grayseasailor said...

Thanks for taking the time to re-post this, Kris. I have never tried to bake a turkey exactly like this. The process and combination of herbs sounds wonderful and I want to show this post to my daughters, too:)
xx from Gracie

Joolz said...

That is the prettiest looking stuffed turkey I have ever seen. Thank you for the 'tutorial', it certainly looks juicy and delicious!
Being an Aussie, we don't do Thanksgiving but I love seeing all the decorating and traditions that US bloggers have at this special time of year. Enjoy that turkey!

Cheers - Joolz

Holly said...

Definitely worth repeating, you're the best!

corners of my life said...

The fresh herbs are a great addition. Rachel Ray could not have done it better.

From the Kitchen said...

I always worry about the turkey and it usually turns out just fine. I don't stuff mine either (well, except like you do) but make the dressing separately. For now, I just want to have a turkey sandwich!!

Happy Thanksgiving.


Dawn said...

That's exactly how I do a chicken, but normally a turkey in a bag. I lucked out and was invited somewhere else this year, so no cooking for me. I did pick up 3 turkeys (for fee) while couponing, so will give your method a try when I pull them from the freezer:)

mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

Hi Kris, Fun reading how you cook your turkey! I do it very similar, but helpful none the less. While I was reading your blog, I burnt my morning toast! lol
Hope i don't burn my turkey!
Enjoy, xoRobin❤

~Niki~ said...

oh my mouth is watering now. lol

Savvy Seasons said...

That's it, I'll be right over for some delicious Turkey sandwiches, YUM!!! What a great tutorial. Your Turkey looked DELISH!! I always enjoy learning new ways of cooking a Turkey, thank you! By the way, you are adorable in your apron.

Wishing you and your beautiful family, a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! xoxo ~Liz

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was a wonderful tutorial, Kris! I've been cooking turkey my entire marriage but I'll never forget how nervous I was the first time I cooked Thanksgiving and would have loved to follow instructions like yours.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Grammy Staffy said...

You are a regular Martha Ray.... Or Julia Child.... Great tutorial. I think you are so nice to go to all this work to help others. Have a great Thanksgiving. Hugs, Lura

Patty (Patty's Pretty Things) said...

Those are great directions! In our 34 years of marriage I have never cooked a turkey! My husband does it and loves to make all the other fixins' plus homemade cherry and apple pies! I do the tablescape!

Beverly said...

OMG, my mouth is watering!!!

The Garden Bell - Kate said...

The best cook I know. What a great tut. Hey, I love that cutting board, please if it's a brand name one let me know. Totally cool. Have a great trip up to the mountains. We are off to TPA again for Scott's family of 28. Have to make stuffing for 28 right off the plane. How did I get assigned that task, I shall not know. Enjoy and gobble, gobble.... Katester

Eileen said...

Thank you for sharing your turkey recipe. Your added stuffing fixins sure makes it look delicious and I am sure it taste delicious. We always enjoy a turkey sandwich in the evening,hours after a big meal.
May you and your family have a wonderful Blessed Thanksgiving.
hugs, Eileen

Pammy Sue said...

Glad you re-posted this entry. It is a really good one...great instructions and lovely pictures! We ordered a smoked turkey from a local BBQ joint this year. My mom, sister, and me are making the sides and desserts. I have had this post printed and in my recipe binder since last year. I know Kate made her turkey using these instructions and it turned out great for her.

Diane said...

YUM !!!!!!

I must have been a good teacher.
You have done me proud. Great


Cheryl said...

Great post Kris!!!! I will be passing this on to both of my girls...lots of good info...and a really, super cute apron!!!!!

Molly B said...

looks delicious! did your pan overflow? can you put another pan underneath it?

Katie said...

What a Beautiful Bird! Mine will be stuffed with Grapefruits this year ;)
Have a Wonderful Holiday weekend with your family. xoxo

my4lilgirls said...

YUMMMMMMM, I'm so gonna follow this for Christmas, mine has never looked that good.
Thanks for sharing Kris
Karen x

Linda said...

I use beer to baste my my Mom did..
Makes for delicious gravy...
I also started doing my stuffing outside the bird a few years ago...
I like to get the bird cooked...clean up that mess...and let the bird rest...sometimes even for 2 hours...amazing how it stays hot...and it frees up the oven for other crisps and pies...oh my!!!

Have a Great Thanksgiving at the cabin...take lots of pictures...I know you guys will have a fabulous time...

Linda :o)

Karen Bates said...

What a wonderful way to cook a turkey...I can almost smell the wonderful flavors and herbs! Thanks.

Pam said...

What a beautiful and delicious looking bird! Looking forward to the recipe for the turkey pot pie... hint hint.


Joline said...

We are hosting Christmas this year...and I've NEVER cooked a turkey. Definitely bookmarking this one!

Thanks Kris and Happy American Thanksgiving :D

Kathy Shea Mormino said...

I would like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

I hope you can make it!
Kathy Shea Mormino
The Chicken Chick