by Tammy Taylor
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Aaaaahhhhh the holidays! It’s one of my favorite times. The friends & family, the food, the fun! It’s wonderful to gather together around a festive table and enjoy the delights of the season. There are homemade casseroles, side dishes, dressing, gravy and of course my favorite – roasted turkey. But here’s the deal: I hate to spend my holidays shackled to the kitchen. There’s all the cooking as well as the massive cleaning required when roasting a turkey. You may ask “But Tammy, is there a better way to prepare?” Well I’m here to tell ya “Why yes there is!”
Several years ago I stumbled upon the idea that you could prepare your turkey in advance. I wondered if it really would work. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if I could actually enjoy the holiday with my guests instead of being cooped in the kitchen trying to prepare for the big feast? And not be straddled with greasy dishes afterward? Hummm…. I decided to give it a go and it’s worked beautifully. So this year I decided to give it a go again.
Simple Turkey Preparation
My 15-lb turkey was obtained early and thawed in the refrigerator for several days. After the turkey thawed I removed the giblets and rinsed the turkey. Then the turkey was allowed to drip/drain for a bit in my turkey roaster pan. Finally I rubbed olive oil over the entire turkey, inside & out, sprinkled it with a mixture of:
2 Tablespoons garlic powder – 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon each of dried sage & salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and often finish up with just a light dusting of paprika.
Sometimes I place onions or celery in the turkey cavity. But more times than not I don’t bother with that step and my turkey always turns out delicious. Who knew roasting a turkey could be so uncomplicated?
No More Turkey-Roasting Bags
In past years when I was preparing to roast a turkey I always purchased a roasting bag. I thought that was the only way to avoid a turkey with white meat so dry you needed boatloads of gravy just to choke it down. But one year I found myself without a roasting bag. Not wanting to make a trek into town right before the holiday to buy one, I polled my Facebook Followers about their experiences. I was delighted to find out that a roasting bag wasn’t really needed for a delightfully-roasted turkey that was both moist & delicious.
Well ok then, buh-bye turkey bags!
Roasting My Turkey
Here’s what I do: After the turkey is rinsed, drained, oiled & seasoned I place the turkey breast-side up in my * turkey roasting rack. I usually wrap a bit of foil around the end of the legs since they oftentimes cook a little faster. Then I tent foil over the entire bird and place the pan in a 350-degree oven for 2 hours.
During my roasting time I don’t baste the turkey since I don’t want to keep opening the oven door. Keeping that door closed helps maintain even roasting temperatures.
Roast Turkey to 165 Degrees
After it’s roasted for 2 hrs I remove the foil tent and increase the oven temp to 425 degrees for about 30-40 minutes longer, or until a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. Some say 170 degrees is better. But I’ve found the temps continue to rise a bit after the turkey is removed from the oven.
Food Safety Is Important!
By the way, I’ve found those little pop-up thingies often placed in the turkey are oftentimes not an accurate gauge for the internal cooked temps. So I don’t rely on them.
(The general rule of thumb for roasting turkey is about 15 minutes per lb based on a 325-degree oven & fully thawed bird, but of course since my roasting temps are different I just use a meat thermometer to test the turkey’s internal cooked temperature.)
When I think the turkey is about done I test the internal temps using a meat thermometer. By roasting to the correct temperature you can assure a moist turkey that’s safely cooked yet not overcooked and dry. Food safety is important!
When the turkey is cooked to a delicious 165-degree golden brown I remove it from the oven. It’s important to allow the bird to rest for 15 to 20 minutes BEFORE carving. This step helps keep those juices inside the turkey meat where they belong.
After the turkey has rested I’ll take out a large broiling pan and line it with foil. I carve the turkey and layer the meat attractively on the foil. When all the meat is carved & layered I seal the meat tightly in more foil and place the entire pan in the freezer. Of course I keep the turkey bones and simmer them into healthy homemade turkey broth so nothing on this bird is wasted. But again, that’s all done BEFORE the holiday! No more cramming a turkey carcass in an already-crammed fridge.
Thawing Cooked Turkey
Now a couple of days before the holiday I simply pull the cooked turkey out of the freezer and allow it to thaw slowly in the fridge. That way on the big day I just pop the pre-cooked and pre-sliced turkey into the oven set to about 200 degrees and allow it to slowly warm. (you can bump the temps up a bit if you’re in a hurry. Just make sure you don’t bump them high enough to basically re-cook and dry out your turkey)
Since all our holiday guests are bringing their own specialty side dishes & desserts all that’s left to do is transfer the turkey to a pretty platter & serve along with all the other deliciousness! Gone are the days of hovering in the kitchen on that special day roasting & carving a turkey. Gone as well is wrestling those greasy cooking pans while all my guests are visiting with each other. I can join in on the fun now! Give it a try.
Want More Holiday Cooking Tips & Recipes?
- No-Cook Cherry Dessert
- MYO Cherry Pie Filling Quickly
- Apple Pie With Home-Canned Apples
- Easy Pumpkin Bread (with Cake Mix Shortcut)
- Easy, Healthy Breakfast Muffins
- Honey-Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Double Pie Crust Recipe
- MYO Sweetened Condensed Milk
- MYO Broth Easily!
- Easy Cream-Of-ANYTHING Soup Recipe
- Easier Peeling For Boiled Eggs
- What Do The Dates On The Food Labels Mean?
- Keeping Hot Dishes HOT In Transit
- Keeping Food Safely COLD
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