As my contribution to Thanksgiving Day 2019 I would like to share my recipe for turkey dinner. I wrote it down to give to a friend at work and the more I thought about it the more sense it made to put it on my blog, so I just copied it and pasted it here. I couldn’t resist the temptation to share my tongue in cheek sense of humor so please excuse me.
How to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey
The definitive guide to preparing and cooking a turkey so good everyone will be
thankful they came to dinner at your house. Well, everyone except the turkey.
Step One – Get a turkey, preferably one that is already dead. Live one’s hate being cooked. The rule of thumb for turkey size is at least one pound of turkey per person so for twelve people coming to dinner buy at least a twelve-pound turkey. Buy a bigger one if you want leftover turkey. It can be frozen for about three months or whenever you remember it’s in the freezer, whichever comes first.
Step Two – Make sure the turkey is not frozen. Most, but not all, turkeys are frozen when purchased at the store. A frozen turkey has to be thawed out before it can be cooked. The proper way to thaw out a turkey is to keep it in the refrigerator for 3 days minimum depending on the size. A 20+ pound turkey may take even longer. If this turkey is for Thursday Thanksgiving dinner, then put it in the refrigerator on the Sunday before. Extra large turkeys need to be in by Saturday.
Step Three – Brine the thawed turkey first thing in the morning on the day before Thanksgiving, which is Wednesday. Brining keeps the turkey from drying out. Here’s how to prepare a basic brine. Buy a gallon of cheap apple juice, pour it into a large pot, (preferably one that can hold more than a gallon of liquid) add ¾ cup of table salt, add ¾ cup white cane sugar, heat and stir until salt and sugar dissolve but it does not need to boil. Add a dozen ice cubes to the pot to help it cool and dilute the brine. While the brine cools, prepare the turkey. Take two NEW kitchen size plastic trash bags and place one inside the other. Put the bags inside the largest bucket you have available (must be big enough to hold the whole turkey and the brine). Put the turkey in the bags in the bucket with the legs at the open end of the bags. Pour the pot of cooled brine into the bags on top of the turkey, being careful not to spill the brine out of the bags onto the floor of your kitchen. Again, the bags and bucket must be large enough to contain the turkey and the brine. This is critical so don’t say I didn’t warn you. A 20-pound turkey may require a gigantic bucket or even a large kitchen trash can. After you have successfully poured the brine into the bags, tie the bags shut and place the whole bucket back in the refrigerator for 12 more hours. After 12 hours remove the bucket and take it to the sink. Carefully, untie the bags and pour out all the liquid into the sink. Remove the turkey from the bags onto a rimmed cookie sheet to keep it from leaking all over your counters. Wash the bucket thoroughly and dry with paper towels. Line the bottom of the bucket with more paper towels… a lot more. Place the brined turkey back into the bucket with the paper towels to soak up more juice. The turkey must dry out before it can be cooked properly. Keep it in the refrigerator until Thanksgiving morning when it is ready to be cooked.
Step Four – Cook the turkey in the oven. First, remove one of the racks and place the other on the lowest position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Get the turkey out of the refrigerator and place it in the roasting pan. Use a stainless-steel rack to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan, if you have one that fits the pan. Cut up one whole apple of any kind into large chunks without the core. Cut up one whole sweet yellow onion into large chunks. Place the apple and onion chunks inside the turkey and around the bottom of the pan. Add 16 ounces of chicken broth, apple juice or water to the pan. Rub the turkey skin with butter or vegetable oil and whatever spice you prefer (salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, Lawry’s season salt etc.). Cover the turkey and place it in the oven on the bottom rack. Cook for one hour per each three pounds of weight (12 lbs. divided by 3 = 4 hours). Take the lid off for the last hour so the turkey skin can brown. Remove when the internal temperature reads 165 degrees. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes. Cut the turkey into portions suitable for consumption. Eat the turkey and enjoy all the compliments for the great meal. Feel free to give me credit for this great recipe if you did it right. Then, take a nap, you earned it.
One last note. The bigger the turkey is, the more room you must have in the refrigerator to thaw and brine it. If the ambient temperature in your garage is less than 40 degrees you could probably keep it out there, provided your garage is varmint-free. Do Not Leave It Outside in 40-degree weather unless you want to feed all of the neighborhood wildlife.