I made Thanksgiving Turkey for the first time in 2008. I have made it every year since at one time or another. Thanksgiving is Matt's favorite holiday because it centers on family and EATING! So in 2009, when we missed Thanksgiving because we were on our honeymoon, I made Thanksgiving when we got back for the two of us.
Normally we celebrate Thanksgiving 3 times in November:
- First Thanksgiving - to celebrate our anniversary (beginning of the month)
- Reese Thanksgiving - all of my husband's extended family celebrates the Sunday before so that on the day of Thanksgiving, they can be with their in-laws without any problems
- Day of Thanksgiving - duh on Thursday!
Here are some of the things I found useful and learned through this process.
Good Rules of Thumb
- Don't stuff the turkey. When you do this, you run the risk of not cooking anything fully. The turkey will dry out before the stuffing is cooked. Instead, bake them separately and add the stuffing later.
- SEASON EVERY INCH OF THE TURKEY!
- inside the cavity (after you remove the bag of nastiness and pull the neck out - GROSS)
- under the skin of the breasts
- around the thighs and wings
- outside of the skin
- Make it compact (right like that's possible)
- tie the legs together
- cover wing tips with foil to avoid burning
- build a breast plate out of foil to protect
- Fill the roasting pan. Make it a hot tub of yummy smells to absorb into the meat. I used carrots, celery, onions, and chicken stock. I added the vegetables ahead of time and poured the liquid once it was in the oven so I wouldn't have to move the liquid and the bird at the same time.
- Once your bird is cooked - let it rest. It worked very hard. Don't slice it for at least 20 minutes.
Here's how I cooked it. I did consult all my friends' mothers before I decided on Karen's recipe in 2008. I have had only compliments with this recipe.
- Put the bird in the oven at 500 for 30 minutes. This will brown it on top.
- Then add a breast plate to protect the breast meat (you have to make this ahead of time or burn your hands badly by molding foil to fit the breasts snugly. And add a thermometer to the breast.
- Reduce heat to 350 and cook until the breasts read a cool 161 degrees.
Time will obviously vary by the size of the bird. And since I am no expert - you google it.
- 2010 - Honey, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, sage
- 2010 - Honey, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, celery seeds, sesame seeds
- 2001 - Honey, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, parsley, basil, CINNAMON