Idiot proof turkey?

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Idiot proof turkey?

Alrighty gang, I'm pulling out the big guns for this one.

I am cooking my first turkey this Thanksgiving. Yep. I've managed to mooch my way around it for past few years but now it's all on me.

First of all, I have my mom's recipe for stuffing. I will not consider any other, thank you. And thank Mom for actually writing it down, since she's passed on and had always done it by memory. I do know some stuff myself, how she did it, recalling it from helping over the years.

But my real question is cooking the damn bird. I think I am only cooking for 4 people, but we need pee-lenty of leftovers, so I wouldn't mind a big one. Mom's stuffing recipe is for a 22lb bird. Is that too big for 4 people? I am fully prepared to freeze leftovers, too. 

So any hints, tips, etc - on cooking the perfect bird would be greatly appreciated. Should I get a fresh one or frozen? I'll also be cooking it stuffed.

I am terrified, btw.... pep talks greatly appreciated.


Re: Idiot proof turkey?

it depends on how long you want to eat turkey, just kidding. But yes, a 22 pound turkey is alot for 4 people.  

I don't know the answers to your other questions.

Re: Idiot proof turkey?

 For the last several years we've cooked our birds in one of those "turkey bags".. just drop the bird in the bag, toss in some flour (not sure why) and cook for xxx minutes based on the weight... It could not be any easier, and the turkey always comes out super juicy and perfect.


"..Do you want to sell sugar-water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

Re: Idiot proof turkey?

Deep fry it.... everything is better fried.

Edit: As long as you have the deep fryer out... deep fry all other food you will be serving.... unless it's peas... those are hard to get out of the fryer.......... don't ask. 


Re: Idiot proof turkey?

Sounds delicious! I love fried food..... youuummmmmy!

Re: Idiot proof turkey?

You will be so proud of yourself when you pull that turkey out of the oven.

I always buy frozen and I buy Butterball. It seems if I go with the cheaper turkeys that always go on sale at Thanksgiving time, I'm better off if I just smoke them. But the bad thing about smoking a turkey is not having any juices to make gravy with. So, I will cook the turkey for a little bit in my roaster pan with the lid on, to try and get some of the juices. I just don't like doing it this way though. I always add water, onion, garlic, celery, salt and pepper in the water for my flavoring.

As far as baking/roasting a turkey, I prefer it this way. I still add the water (actually, I will add cans of chicken broth instead) to the turkey, with the same seasonings as above. I use lots of onion that I stuff inside the turkey and lots of onion setting in the juices. I spray one side of foil with Pam and cover the turkey sealing the edges very tight on the roaster pan so as to not let out any steam. I usually buy the biggest turkey I can find so we have leftovers and my roaster lid never fits.

Since you are stuffing your turkey, we differ here. I make my stuffing in a 13x9 inch pan because I want it done. Now, you can make your stuffing this way, then several hours into cooking the turkey, you can stuff your turkey if you like. (I've just never done it, but I'm sure it would work.) Butterball suggests making your stuffing in the morning so it's ready to go inside your turkey when it is time to start cooking it.

Back to cooking the turkey. I follow the directions on the package of the turkey. Because I add the broth at first, this means my pan is going to be overflowing with juices that have come from the turkey during this initial baking. So I pull it out and very carefully pour out 'most' of the juices into a large bowl that I have sitting in the sink. I want this for gravy. I add more broth back into pan, and reseal the foil and re-Pam it if need be. I want more juices from that turkey for more gravy. My family loves turkey gravy.

Finish baking your turkey. If you have a meat thermometer, it may come in real handy to help you determine if it is finished. I don't use one, I just can tell if it is done.

For my gravy. Lots of different ways to do this. My way: I have to get the grease/fat off of the juices. It is hard to make gravy with all the fat. So I have one of those containers made just for this. You pour your turkey juices in it. It looks like a measuring cup with a spout on it. The spout opening is at the bottom of the cup. The reason for this is that the fat/oils/grease rise to the top of the liquid. So, when you pour your juice out, the juice comes out first because it is at the bottom. You stop pouring when you see the fat/oil/grease juice getting to the bottom of the container. Pour that into something else to discard. Pour in some more of your turkey juices, let it set a few minutes so the fats rise to the top, then pour out your juices again. Repeat until you have acquired all your turkey juice.

Next, I put all my good juice into a large heavy saucepan, turn on the stove to medium. I take cornstarch and put it in an 8 oz glass. I add cold water to this and stir it with a fork. You must use cold water with cornstarch. Directions for how much is on the package. I just do it, so I can't tell you, but in time, you can do it yourself. Now, your gravy should be hot, start pouring your cornstarch/water liquid into your gravy, while 'whisking' continually. You can turn the heat up on this a bit more. Keep stirring, do not let it sit. Pretty soon, it will start to bubble and you will notice a slight change in color of your gravy and it will almost seem to get shiny. Once thick enough, you are done. I do this as soon as I can, so I can just cover it, set it aside until I need to reheat it for serving.

What if your gravy isn't thick enough, or never seems to get thick enough, just add more cornstarch and water together and add more of this in, repeating the stirring until thick enough.  Oh, and add the gravy packet if your turkey comes with one.  They are pretty good!

Some people chop up eggs and the gizzards, etc and put that into their gravy. I usually don't, but it's your preference. I will boil the gizzards, heart, liver, neck, etc and add that broth to my turkey for extra flavor.

I'd like to hear your stuffing recipe, I love trying new things. I make sausage stuffing. Tearing up several loafs of bread, mix in 6 eggs, add one small package of Jimmy Dean Sausage (or any brand), grate up a large onion, add a tiny bit of poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and mix it all up, dump it in a greased 9x13 pan and bake. Really good with gravy on it.

Oh my goodness, I can almost smell Thanksgiving day now. Long winded enough? Sorry, I get into it. But this is what I do.

You can also check out Butterball if you need other help. I think they used to have Turkey Day hotlines open for people to call in if they needed help. Your 22 pound turkey should give you plenty of leftovers.

Oh, one more thing I thought of. This depends on your oven, but you can foil tip the legs so they don't burn.

Do you want to do a practice run? I mean, go buy a small turkey and cook it. It would be practice and you could get tired of eating turkey before Thanksgiving!


If I was standing on a fish, I'd slip and fall......

Re: Idiot proof turkey?


 I am actually doing a test run on baking turkey right now.  Since my oven doesn't work.  All I have to work with is my broiler.

 Broiled turkey, interesting.  I've been baking with a boiler for quite a while now.  And I'm sure that by Thanksgiving, I'll still be using a broiler.

 I have even 'broiled' bread.  It's lots of fun.  I have to pretty much cook the top then flip the bread over and cook the other side.


If I was standing on a fish, I'd slip and fall......

Re: Idiot proof turkey?


I have absolutely nothing to offer, but my best wishes and prayers. My sister-in-law and I talk about this EVERY thanksgiving. What in the world will we do when our kids are older and want to have dinner at our place?!?!? OH GOD< THE THOUGHT.... 

I wish you the best! 

Re: Idiot proof turkey?

Thanks gang - for all the helpful info (and prayers!lol).

I was going to do a test turkey last summer and of course, flaked.

I'll let you guys know how it turns out!


Sorry for the delay in my gratitude here - I have LOTS to catch up on! 



Re: Idiot proof turkey?

22 pounds is nice for four people, i use the same size for 4 and have plenty of leftovers.  I also like Butterball turkeys.  I cook my turkeys for 18 minutes per pound  unstuffed, 22 stuffed, and that makes a nice, juicy turkey.  One foolproof way to check for doneness is to pierce underneath the leg in that meaty area.....if the juices run clear, it is done. If they still run pink, it isnt done.  Do this test around the time it should be ready after figuring the cooking time by weight.  You can always buy a turkey with the timer in it too.  I like to cook the stuffing inside the bird, it gives it that flavor.  Don't pack the stuffing inside, though, make sure you leave room for it to expand.  Just place it inside and fill the cavity.  Extra stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish.  I use the liquids from the veggies i am making to make the gravy (plus some water) and make it with the juices in the pan.  I mix a little flour in a cup with water and add in tablespoons till its a nice consistency.  I strain the gravy before serving.  These are little things I have learned over the years from trial and error.  My first turkey I forgot to take out the packet that they stuff in the backside, lol.....and I jammed the stuffing in so much it came out like....well, you get the picture.  Good luck and have a great holiday.

Re: Idiot proof turkey?

1) Use a Butterball or pre-brined turkey

2) DO NOT STUFF THE TURKEY WITH THE STUFFING!!! It can suck out all the juices from the bird, increases cooking time and  any bacteria in the bird that would be killed by 150f Degrees breast and 170f Darkmeat can migrate into the center of the stuffing that may not get pass the 140F degrees to kill it.  Instead cook the stuffing on the side substituting turkey broth for water and rub the interior with salt then stuff with herbs and halved lemons,oranges,and limes (these will add moisture) 

3) Lightly oil the entire turkey surface with canola oil or vegtible oil to help it brown  and preheat your oven to 500f degrees (don't worry, it's the crisping measure) (Please put the Turkey on a rack to keep it out of it's drippings....unless you like a soggy backed Turkey)

4)  When the Oven is ready,stick the bird in and Cook at this tempature for 1 hour (this is to brown the skin) then oven the oven and cover the breast with foil then stick the bird back in and drop the tempature to 350f degrees and cook until the thermometer reads 150f when pushed into the deepest part of the  breast meat (first check about 2 hours into cooking and about every 30 minutes after that)

Note:  A properly Brined Bird will stay moist during cooking, and basting does nothing but sog up the crispy skin and make it fall off so DON'T BASTE cause constantly opening and closing the door to do this useless proceedure adds cooking time besides doing nothing for internal moisture content.

5) After the Breast are 150F degrees take the bird out of the Oven and cover tightly with Foil for 20 minutes (it is still cooking) before carving.  After the 20 minutes cover loosly with foil or other cover as contacting a cover can cause the skin to come soggy 

If you Don't have a prebrined Turkey you can boil  a gallon of water, mix in 1 pound of Salt, 1 pound of Brownsugar or Honey, stir well, cool, Drop in a bag of Ice, pour into a "football" Cooler (those big ones that usually store gatorade) and put the gutted of the parts bag and washed Turkey into the  mixture and store in cool place for 12 hours (or 4 hours minimum in a rush). After that pat the bird dry and follow cooking instructions 1-5


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