It was my first Thanksgiving with my fiance in our new home. It was my chance to prove to my future groom that he made the right decision in his lifelong mate and that I would keep him fat and happy the rest of his life.
However, all of those aspirations were crushed when we went to scoop out the stuffing only to find it covered with melted white plastic.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, uncooked turkeys come with little bags of turkey innards for those who wish to use them to make sides such as collard greens or gravy.
Eleven years later — don’t do the math — I have perfected the art of cooking a turkey through many trials and mishaps.
For those who are preparing the gluttonous feast for the first time, or even those who have made similar mistakes that I initially did, follow these simple steps for a juicy, delicious turkey that even a vegetarian would enjoy.
The first thing to consider when figuring out what time to cook the turkey is to decide on a time when you will be serving the meal. If you plan to feast at lunchtime, ideally you would begin cooking your bird at midnight the night before. If you are planning a late afternoon meal, you can start cooking that morning. Depending on the size of the bird, you’ll need at least 10 hours of cooking time in order to get the desired results for the perfect turkey.
For birds 20 pounds and under, 10 hours are sufficient. Add an hour for each additional two pounds of meat. The faster you cook the turkey, the drier it will be. Cooking turkeys at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time is not advisable. Perfection takes patience and your nostrils will thank you for the sensational smells that come with cooking your bird.
Seven Easy Steps
1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make sure your turkey is defrosted. Ideally the turkey should be defrosted in the fridge for at least three days. Do not defrost in the sink for safety issues.
3. Pull out the little white plastic bags of innards and rinse out the inside of the turkey with water in the sink. Make sure to get rid of as much red liquid as you can.
4. After placing the bird in the roasting pan, pour the liquid stock into the bottom of the pan, and then rub the stick of butter all over the skin of the bird. Make sure you cover every single inch. Some people like to add seasoning such as oregano or powdered adobo on top of the bird.
5. Start filling the bird with the stuffing you have prepared. Stove Top includes a guide that tells you how much stuffing you need depending on the size of your bird. To dress up Stove Top, use equal amounts of chicken, vegetable or turkey stock instead of water, and add dried cranberries and sauteed onions to the mix.
6. Put the pan in the oven and let the magic happen. But your job is not over when you put it in. Every hour, inject the breast in several spots with the juice in the bottom of the pan, use the baster to pour the same juice all over the outside of the bird as well. This is the most important step out of all of them. This is the true key to a juicy turkey. It is extremely time consuming but definitely worth it.
7. Ten hours of cooking should ensure the bird is thoroughly cooked, however, when cooking poultry, you need to be extra careful. The Department of Agriculture calls for the turkey to read 180 degrees for safe consumption. You want to check deep into the turkey, but at the same time make sure you are not reading the stuffing. Don’t just check one spot — check all over.
Not your momma’s green bean casserole
-A new take to a tired classic
2 cans of French styled green beans (drained)
2 cans of whole cut green beans (drained)
2 cups of favorite jarred Alfredo sauce
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
1 small can of French fried onions
¼ cup of milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a casserole dish, combine green beans, Alfredo Sauce, 1/2 of the onions, milk and cheese. Then top with remaining onions.
3. Bake uncovered 25 minutes.
White wine and apple stuffing
10 slices of bread cubed, Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal preferred,
1 cup of diced apples
½ cup of dried cranberries, Ocean Spray Craisins are best
2 tbsp. of butter
1 cup of chicken, vegetable or turkey broth
1 cup of white wine, I use Sterling Castle Riesling
1 small chopped onion
Dash of salt and pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of Cinnamon
Dash of Brown sugar
1. Cube the bread, place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350° for 20 minutes.
2. In frying pan, melt butter and sauté the onions, apples, dried cranberries, white wine and seasonings
3. Place bread in bowl and add sautéed mixture and broth and stir
4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or stuff in the turkey before cooking
Drunken Orange-Cranberry sauce
-for those over the age of 21, cook the night before
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup of orange juice with pulp
1 cup of sugar
¼ cup of favorite bourbon or Grand Marnier
Dash of orange zest
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
5. In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.
6. Continue to boil until the cranberries to pop and break.
7. Simmer until thick
8. Transfer to a boil and place in the fridge until ready to serve.