Martie’s Holiday Turkey Recipe
Please plan ahead. This recipe is quite quick to prepare but has a very, very long cooking time. Except for checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, once you have put the turkey in the oven, you are finished working until it’s time to carve. No basting!
If you want stuffing, bake that separately, not inside the turkey. This recipe is a low temperature/slow method not suitable for stuffing.
1 onion (the bigger the turkey, the bigger the onion), quartered
1 or more peeled garlic glove, halved (optional)
2 stalks celery, chopped in big chunks
1 orange, quartered but not peeled
New thought on thawing the bird: I’m sure you know never to thaw a turkey at room temperature because it can develop harmful levels of bacteria. These are the official USDA instructions. The conventional wisdom (also according to Butterball who should know) is that refrigerator thawing is best. Do it breast side up, in unopened wrapper, on a tray in the refrigerator, allowing at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.
Oops, for my 20 pound turkey, that’s 5 days. Not going to happen. The cold water thaw is done by having the bird in the unopened wrapper, breast side down, in enough cold water to cover it completely and to change the water frequently to keep the turkey chilled. This would take about 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey. So, in my case, that’s 10 hours, which I can manage. However, I’ve tried this in the sink, but that’s not enough water for a large bird and the bath tub is too much water. Today I dreamed up what I thought was an original Heloise-worthy idea (until I Googled it). Here is a link to instructions for thawing a turkey in an Igloo insulated container. LINK I have my operation outside so that I can use the hose for filling and then to drain the container into the flower bed. I also have a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler to monitor the temperature. If the weather is quite cool and the water temp seems to be staying the same, I don’t always change. It is important to cook the turkey right away after thawing this way—e.g. don’t put it back in the refrigerator.
Remove packets of goodies from both ends of the turkey. (If desired, place neck and giblets in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer thoroughly to make broth for gravy.) Rinse turkey and pat dry with a paper towel. Divide the onion, garlic, celery and orange into two piles and stuff both ends of the turkey. Seal the skin flaps with skewer or string.
Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan so the meat will not be stewing in juices. Unless it is important to have a beautiful Norman Rockwell turkey to show off, I strongly recommend roasting the bird with the breast side down. The juices baste the white meat and keep it moist.
Rub the entire outside of the bird with MacNut™ Oil. Insert a meat thermometer aimed so you can see the face through the oven window. To keep the back from getting overdone ahead of the rest of the turkey, drop a small aluminum tent very loosely on the top.
Now, here is the nifty part. Start with an oven preheated to 350°, but when you put the turkey in, immediately reduce the heat to 200°. Yes, 200° for 1 hour per pound of turkey. If your oven runs hot, it may be 50 minutes per pound, so watch the meat thermometer and when it reaches 165 degrees, reduce the oven temperature to “Warm” until it is time to eat. [Note, older thermometers show a poultry setting of 180 degrees but that is no longer deemed necessary and dries out the bird.] You will see the skin begin to pull back on the legs.
The turkey will be remarkably moist and tender but the skin will be brown and crispy.
Starting with a “brined” turkey is an option that works well.*
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.
* Brining is done by marinating the turkey in salt water for 12 hours or more before starting the above recipe. The turkey has to be kept cold during the marinating process. Kosher salt is used and the instructions may be on the box.