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  1. #1

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    Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    With Thanksgiving and Christmas closing in, it's time to talk turkey...as in how to cook the bird. I have learned a few things from Alton Brown about roasting turkeys in the oven, and I suggest you do the same as follows:
    • Before cooking your bird, soak it overnight in a brine mixture of cold water and salt (Kosher is preferred), especially in a five-gallon container. A cooler or a construction bucket (such as those used for industrial sized paint containers - clean of course) is perfect for this.
    • Make a breastplate for the bird to make it moist and juicy. Leave it on for the first 30 minutes at 500 degrees, then remove the breastplate and turn down the oven to 350 degrees for fifteen minutes a pound. Also, don't trust the pop-up indicators on your turkey. They're set to go up at a certain time and temp, and chances are that bird will be undercooked.
    • Whatever you do, do not try filling the cavity of your bird with stuffing. Make it apart from the turkey because if you do stuff the bird, salmonella will result. Instead, fill the cavity of your bird with aromatics like apples, herbs, onions...you name it.
    What do you do with your bird? Grill it? Deep fry it? Roast it? Any other ways? Share them with us.

  2. #2

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    I have always covered the whole bird with heavy duty foil and had the pan semi filled with water. I take the foil off 1 hour before the birds were to be taken out and they were golden brown!, my birds were so juicy and so delicious! Also the bigger the bird the tougher it is. small birds are way better. ( I always cooked 2 10 or 12 pounders rather then 1 22 pounder
    Now that I no longer eat meat, no bird this year for me ( my boys will be having tukey at my moms.

  3. #3

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Best tip:

    Have Dad cook the bird. Help in other ways during the day.

  4. #4

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Our tradition is to have thanksgiving for breakfast and we nibble on it all day. I cook the turkey on low heat all night. When we wake up it is done, tender and falling off the bone. We do cover it with foil. While the turkey is resting I make the side dishes, then we eat.

    I cook this meal several times a year. I have it down. it is one of the easiest meals I make. I don't understand when people complain about how hard thanksgiving is. I always clean as I go. So, by the time everything is ready the kitchen is pretty much cleaned up as well.

  5. #5

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    My husband is the hero of Thanksgiving in our house. He grills the turkey and we do the bone in turkey breasts. Generally, we have 8-10 people but we make at least 2 breast so we can all enjoy left overs.

    I know that he does something where he mixes butter with fresh herbs (or non-fresh if he's in a bind) and then rubs the bird down after lifting the skin. Replace the skin, and that's the extent of what I know he does.

    He puts the bird on top of a foil covered grill. Cooks it on medium with it covered in foil for the first part. It takes about 2 hours to cook an average size bone-in breast.

    I love that there isn't a bird in my oven all day! We've actually had relatives show up with their own turkey breast and ask Jeff to cook one for them and we put it on after the first round are done and it is done when they leave after dessert.
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  6. #6

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by SCUBAbe View Post
    Our tradition is to have thanksgiving for breakfast and we nibble on it all day. I cook the turkey on low heat all night. When we wake up it is done, tender and falling off the bone. We do cover it with foil. While the turkey is resting I make the side dishes, then we eat.

    I cook this meal several times a year. I have it down. it is one of the easiest meals I make. I don't understand when people complain about how hard thanksgiving is. I always clean as I go. So, by the time everything is ready the kitchen is pretty much cleaned up as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by tinkermonkey View Post
    My husband is the hero of Thanksgiving in our house. He grills the turkey and we do the bone in turkey breasts. Generally, we have 8-10 people but we make at least 2 breast so we can all enjoy left overs.

    I know that he does something where he mixes butter with fresh herbs (or non-fresh if he's in a bind) and then rubs the bird down after lifting the skin. Replace the skin, and that's the extent of what I know he does.

    He puts the bird on top of a foil covered grill. Cooks it on medium with it covered in foil for the first part. It takes about 2 hours to cook an average size bone-in breast.

    I love that there isn't a bird in my oven all day! We've actually had relatives show up with their own turkey breast and ask Jeff to cook one for them and we put it on after the first round are done and it is done when they leave after dessert.

    great ways to cook the bird!! I am betting its yummy

  7. #7

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    We deep fry our turkey in peanut oil. The bird always comes out very moist and not greasy. Cooking time is usually less than an hour.

  8. #8

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    I roast it stuffed with whole onions, garlic cloves and basil leaves, based upon the poundage, usually 4.5-5 hours.

    No added liquids. I have a foil tent over it for several hours. Uncovered for at least an hour (looooove crunchy skin).

    I'm cooking my first of the season tomorrow!

    And I agree that Thanksgiving dinner is easy-peasy. I don't get the fears and fuss some people make of it. I kick butt at it.

  9. #9

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    We're deep frying a bird for the first time this year (unless I can talk Steph into letting me get a turducken) and while excited, I'm a little nervous. We usually have two or three birds for Thanksgiving (huge family) so no loss if it sucks. I'm just worried about dropping in the bird and having a nuclear detonation. I've seen too many news reports of deep fried birds gone wrong. Wish me luck!

    And pray for me.

  10. #10

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Great thread!

    Every Thanksgiving my family gets together. We usually get 10-15 people and a 26+ pound turkey.
    We prepare the turkey by cleaning it, slightly stuffing it, oiling it and throwing lots of salt and pepper on it. I know many people will say use butter, don't suff it, ect but we have never had an issue with either of these - it always turns out great! ...We've used this methood for over 120 years in our family and we aren't going to change it now.
    "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." -Henry David Thoreau


  11. #11

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    We've always stuffed our turkey and had no problems with it. Mom's secret to moist turkey was covering it with bacon slices - it was self-basting. We'd cover the whole thing with tin foil, set a pan of water in the oven to make sure things didn't dry out, and left it in overnight. Then in the morning, we'd take the tent off. When the drumstick moves easily, it's done. Simple as that.
    She did it!


  12. #12

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzman View Post
    We're deep frying a bird for the first time this year (unless I can talk Steph into letting me get a turducken) and while excited, I'm a little nervous. We usually have two or three birds for Thanksgiving (huge family) so no loss if it sucks. I'm just worried about dropping in the bird and having a nuclear detonation. I've seen too many news reports of deep fried birds gone wrong. Wish me luck!

    And pray for me.
    I was terrified the first year we deep fried but hubby read up on all the safety precautions ahead of time, still I was there with the fire extinguisher and phone in case of having to call 911. We have been frying for about 6 years now and have never had a boil over incident. Some important things to do when deep frying a turkey include:

    Make sure you are using oil that can get that hot. Peanut oil is recommended.

    Your turkey needs to be 100% defrosted and completely dried off prior to putting it in the hot oil.

    We always check using Water in the fryer for measurement of how much oil we will need to cover the bird, then using tape to mark our fill line we empty the water and put in the oil.

    Hope this helps.

  13. #13

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    I always stuff the turkey also and it's never caused an issue.

  14. #14

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    We always go to DL Hotel for the Thanksgiving Buffet on Turkey Day, but when we do cook a bird (usually for Christmas) we smoke it, for about 12 hours (depending on size).....always turns out great! Have to settle with Stuffing made seperately though along with the gravy, but heck it's well worth it!
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  15. #15

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    Re: Holiday Cooking Turkey Tips

    Actually, I don't do any fussing when I cook a turkey. If I am cooking the whole bird, I just put enough water in the bottom of the pan so the drippings don't burn the pan. I put the turkey on a rack, and I roast it covered with foil for 20 minutes a pound at 325 degrees. For the last hour, I take off the foild so the bird can brown. I always stuff the turkey with stuffing made right before I stuff the turkey.

    Now the last few years, I have not been cooking a full turkey. I have been buying a turkey breast instead. I am the only one that likes the dark meat, so the turkey brest provides me with more meat, less mess, and is a whole lot easier to carve. Of course, I can't stuff that, so I have just been making stuffing on the stove top just prior to the meal. My family members seem fine with the results, and it's been an easier meal to prepare the last few years. I found an 11 pound turkey breast in the store, and while it might have cost me a little more than a larger turkey, I'll be happy not to have to pick the turkey off the bones, of a full bird. All that dark meat was never eaten.

    Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, asparagus, corn, and dinner rolls with butter.. That's our usual meal, and it's my favorite Holiday, by far. If any of my guests want to bring over any other dishes, we enjoy those as well.
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