Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble: Tackling the Bird!

So every year just around Thanksgiving time, we get ambitious and decide that we are going to cook the whole Thanksgiving dinner shebang...but then when the actual time comes around, that same ambition is nowhere to be found and we leave it to my aunt and we gobble out there...But this time around, with much gumption, we decided that once the thanksgiving rounds were over, I would cook the entire thanksgiving dinner as a test run. Basically, it was our way of having proper turkey at Thanksgiving and do experiments at a later time...Only because we don't want to look like the woman on the right.

So what is this blog post all about? Well it's for those who are starting to muster gumption to roast the bird for the very first time...Call it a small guide on what to do when cooking turkey, if you instead of going to all the random sites, we at KD decided to bring it all in one go. Yes...ONE PRINTOUT FROM ONE PAGE...

An Ideal Thanksgiving Turkey should look like this...

So with that in mind let's begin...

Without getting too ahead of ourselves....Let's discuss first things first... The tools we need!!

Roasting Pan
Roasting Rack (to place the bird in the pan)
Poultry Lifters
Meat Baster
Meat Thermometer
Carving Knife and Fork
5 gallon bucket for the brining process
White Cotton String (aka kitchen twine)


Thawing a bird in the refrigerator can take days and in all honesty, who is that patient. So after surveying different processes, I found this to be the most convenient..


Allow about 30 minutes per pound.

First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.

Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

Cold Water Thawing Times
  • 4 to 12 pounds …… 2 to 6 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds …… 6 to 8 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds …… 8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds …… 10 to 12 hours

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.


The biggest misconception of making turkey juicy and flavorful is by basting the turkey often...In reality, it's when you brine the meat, it adds moisture and flavor and helps to keep it from drying out. So how do we brine a turkey. Well, first the turkey has to be thoroughly thawed and cleaned out, which at this point you should have done based on step 1.

Preparing the Brine (based on a 14-16 lbs turkey)

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
1/2 gallon of cold apple juice

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water and apple juice, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine, apple juice and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

When you are ready to start cooking your turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly in the sink with cold water until all traces of salt are off the surface inside and out. Pat the Turkey dry with paper towels. Safely discard the brine and cook your turkey as normal.

Important Tips:

- One way of telling if you have enough salt in your brine is that a raw egg will float in it.
- The turkey should sit in the brine for about 1 hour per pound of turkey. Brining too long is much worse than not brining enough so watch the time.


Now I'm sure we all have our own recipes and/or we can go on or and get the perfect recipe to your own liking. The most important thing about this part of the process is that you really need to season the turkey well....ample butter, salt and pepper on the bird. But ample salt and pepper inside the cavity too!!! You might want to stuff the bird with ur favorite stuffing, or rice, different herbs (i.e. rosemary, sage, thyme, and etc.), a lemon or 2, whole garlic, the list is endless but do try to stuff the turkey with acts as an aromatic and gives some flavor to the bird too but of course it is optional..... Once you have stuffed the bird, we then come to the next step of tying the turkey. (p.s. if you stuff the turkey, cook the bird immediately as it may develop harmful bacteria.)


Make sure the stuffing is well-secured; put a piece of bread or foil over the neck and body cavity openings and secure the turkey skin over the cavity with skewers, if you have them.

Use kitchen string to tie the turkey's legs together, pressing the legs close to the turkey body. Turn the turkey over and fold its wings back behind it. Tie another piece of string around the turkey's neck skin, leaving two long ends hanging. Pass each string end through a wing. Tie the string ends together, pinning the turkey wings horizontally.

Now that you've tied the turkey it's time to cook!!!


Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Place the turkey breast side down on the rack in the roasting pan. for about 30 mins.

Reduce oven heat to 325 F. It is important to keep the oven door closed as much as possible while the turkey is roasting to maintain a constant temperature within the oven.

Take out turkey and turn breast side up. Insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the bird to check the proper doneness of the bird, which is at least 170°F for the breast and 180°F for the thigh. Basting the bird every 1.5 hr will give the bird a crisp golden skin however basting should be kept to a minimum so that the oven door is not opened too often. The more times the oven door is opened, the longer the cooking time will be because of heat loss within the oven.

Turkey Cook Time:

Roasting Times for a Whole Turkey Cooked in a 325°F Conventional Oven
Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours 4¾ to 5¼ hours
24 to 30 pounds 5 to 5¼ hours 5¼ to 6¼ hours

It is important that the turkey is not overcooked, because the breast meat may dry out quickly. Roughly it is 20 mins for every pound...

After removing the turkey from the oven, the temperature of the meat will increase by about 5° as the turkey rests. Let the turkey rest for about 20 - 30 mins under tented foil to allow the juices to go back into the meat.


First take the turkey drippings from the roasting pan and separate the fat, stock depending on how much gravy you want, and meat juices as both will be needed in different stages of the gravy making process.

Deglaze the pan with some wine and meat juice. in a separate bowl mix the turkey fat and a little bit of butter and flour. once mixed, whisk into the mixture in pan.

sauce will thicken. cook until desired consistency... pour into gravy boat and serve with turkey and other fixins...look down below for some ideas!

Bon Apetit!

The pictures on this post were found in the respective sites

No comments: