As the end of the year approaches, holidays are on the mind! And of course first thing that everyone associates with holidays is food. I am focusing on Thanksgiving. And for those of you who are cooking, many questions may come to mind. What types of food should I consider making this year? Should it be healthy or should it be festive? How much food do I prepare? This time of year can be very overwhelming. Have no fear; this blog is here to help!
No matter if you’re going to your future in-laws house for the first time, hosting the holiday event yourself, or perhaps you are invited to a new tradition “friendsgiving,” this blog will show you a first-hand experience at cooking that beautiful Thanksgiving bird.
Typically, we associate Thanksgiving with turkey, dressing, potatoes, and fresh roasted corn. Well that is if you’re from Memphis. Our friends in northern states prepare turkey with stuffing. According to an article written by the Smithsonian, turkey was not actually the centerpiece of what we all think Thanksgiving is about. Instead pigeons may have been offered among the first people. Wild game such as water fowl and deer were also the main meat sources. The birds were probably not stuffed with bread either, instead corn was in abundance and often used.
I decided to make my very own, and first, Thanksgiving turkey this year and document every step along the way. The first thing I did was find a delicious recipe that I thought would be a crowd pleaser as well as something easy to manage on my first attempt. The second thing I had to do was decide if I would buy a frozen or fresh turkey. The convenience of buying a fresh turkey is that it could be bought as late as the day of Thanksgiving with no defrosting required. However, I could save nearly half the cost by purchasing frozen. For this experience, I decided to buy a frozen turkey. If you’re like me and never shopped for a whole turkey before it can be quite overwhelming staring at multiple types, brands, and sizes of turkeys not knowing which one to choose. Since I’m on a budget, I decided to go with the Kroger special which was $.79 per pound. Being a late shopper, the only problem was most of the turkeys left were enormous. I purchased a 15 pounder and was ready to take it home and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
Feeling quite satisfied with myself, I gazed upon what I thought was going to be a fantastic turkey when I realized I had nothing to cook it in and my happy holiday bubble, at that moment, was popped! I ran out to the dollar store and I bought an aluminum foil bottom for the chore. My girlfriend came up with a brilliant plan of rolling aluminum foil to create a rack that the turkey could sit on without being submerged in the pan.
The recipe required the turkey to be defrosted, cleaned out, and stuffed with seasonings before being set in the refrigerator for a day before cooking. Since I bought the turkey with only two days to spare, I did not have the time to follow the full instructions. In a sweat, I began a quicker defrosting method by placing the turkey in a large pan of cold water and flipping it after half an hour. Once an hour of cold bath was complete, I pulled out the giblet bag and neck which I saved for use in making the gravy. I dried the turkey off and seasoned the outside with a little salt and pepper. Next, six whole cloves of garlic were placed inside the turkey with an onion peeled and quartered. The herbs added included sage, rosemary, and bay leaves. Last, I zested the top of the turkey with fresh lemon and wrapped it in foil to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
The next step was to wake up (at 6am, Thanksgiving Trooper) and pull the turkey out of the refrigerator. The directions indicated to let it sit out at room temperature for an hour before transferring to the baking pan. A friend of mine mentioned coring a Granny Smith apple and stuffing it inside with an onion chopped in fourths and the lemon chopped in fourths. Getting to business, I broke the tabs off the plastic rings that held the turkey legs in place. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but apparently I was supposed to gently pull each leg out to allow the stuffing of the bird and then place it back on so the stuffing remains secure inside. As you see in the photo, no problems with the pieces I inserted! The legs also came out golden all over. I chopped up the rest of the onions and poured the bottle of apple cider into the pan then moved the turkey onto the pan. Being a semi-unprepared novice, I had no basting utensil. However, I did have a small ladle which proved perfect for pouring the liquid over the top of the turkey before placing it in the oven for 30 minutes at 450° uncovered.
Baking the turkey was a breeze. During my initial recipe search, I found another site online that directed cooking the turkey at 350° for 15 minutes per pound covered with foil. My plan was coming together nicely. Once, the 30 minutes of foil-less baking was complete, I pulled the turkey out and let the oven reach the desired temperature while I poured the liquid back on top and set a timer for 30 minutes. From then on, in 30 minute intervals, I would open the oven and baste the bird. The house smelled amazing. The turkey was coming along great and my fingers were crossed that it would turn out a delicious, moist centerpiece at lunch. Through the entire process, my main fear was showing up to lunch with 15 pounds of dry meat.
The total bake time was approximately 4 hours. Using my meat thermometer, it reached the safe zone of 165° and was ready to be loaded up and carted off to Thanksgiving lunch!
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments please email me at email@example.com