Sunday, November 20, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving..........The STAR of the DAY....Turkey 101

What are you all making for the big day?  Like I have said in my previous posts, we are going to my sister's house this year, but I'm not completely off the hook, I am bringing my Homemade Dinner Rolls, Pecan Pie which I posted a couple days ago, and my Homemade Sugar Cookies.  I enjoy cooking and baking for Thanksgiving, but I am so relieved that my sister is hosting this year!

Today I am sharing my secrets in making a most delicious moist Roasted Turkey, and some tips I have with the timing of how to get the meal on the table all at the same time.  I love roasting a Turkey, I find it easy!  I don't use the gizzard or "stuff in the bag". Yes, I know, some of you like using them in your gravy, or even stuffing, but I would just rather throw them out!  Please don't be intimidated by a big 20lb Turkey, it's just like roasting a big chicken, and you all know how to roast a chicken, cause I already showed you!

Roasted Turkey 101

20 lb Turkey (I like to use a Butterball)
1 stick of butter
3 cups hot water mixed with 3 TBS chicken bouillon
Salt & Pepper
Dried Rosemary (optional)
4 TBS flour
Cold Water and a jar with a lid for the GRAVY

1. Timing is the key, you want the Turkey to be done cooking about 1 hour before you eat, so the oven is free to put the rolls, stuffing, and other delicious food you so lovingly prepared.  You want all your food to be done at the same time, not waiting around for the stuffing or rolls to bake in the oven. And you can have your mashed pots done already, like I showed you in a previous post.

2. How many pounds of Turkey do you have,,,,20?  Then that bird needs about 3 1/2 - 4  hours to cook unstuffed, I never stuff my turkey.  I like the stuffing in a casserole dish. But if you want to stuff your bird, by all means please do so. It will take longer to cook.  So, say you want to eat by 2pm on Thanksgiving Day, then you need to put your 20lb Turkey in the oven by 10:30 that morning,

3. After you have rinsed your bird, and take the bag out of the cavity the night before, and made sure all is well. Pat dry with paper towels, be careful to wash your hands when done, cross contamination!  Put it in the roasting pan you want to roast it in.  Put it back in the frig and let it sit covered with foil for the night in the frig, kind of airing out,  Then in morning let it sit out on the counter 1 hour before you put it in the oven, to come to room temperature. 

4. Melt about 1 stick of butter, and brush your bird with the butter generously, salt and pepper very well, hey, it's a big bird, making sure all the parts are well seasoned,  I like to add a little dried rosemary too....adds flavor.  You will have some butter leftover, put it in a small pot and add the 2 cups of chicken bouillon mixture, and heat up, this will be the basting liquid.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and put the Turkey, UNCOVERED, in the oven, making sure the racks are in the lowest position. I never cover my Turkey, I want it golden brown.  Let the Turkey cook, and bast it every 1/2 with the basting liquid, this is the key for a moist bird! 

6. After about 3 hours get your handy meat thermometer and test the temp, stick it in the deepest part of the thigh....how's it cooking, almost to 160 degrees?  Almost done...I like to cook my turkey to 170 cause then when it sits for that hour on the counting waiting to be carved it still cooks, but you want the meat to be white, NO PINK, and when you poke it, the juices MUST BE CLEAR!!!

7. When the temp reaches 170, take the bird out and sit on your counter, in the pan, and cover with foil.  When it cools some you can remove it and put it on a cutting board, and then pour the liquid goodness in a large saucepan to make your gravy!  Now get those Dinner Rolls and stuffing, and whatever else you have in the oven to COOK!

8. One half hour before ready to serve, take the bird out of the roasting pan, and put on a big cutting board.  Pour the roasting liquid into a large saucepan, and the leftover basting liquid, bring that liquid to a boil for about 3 mins. Now find a special person to start carving the bird, while you make the gravy.

The Gravy

 While the liquid is boiling for 3 mins, get your handy gravy jar out and add 4 TBS flour, and fill the jar with cold water, shake really well.  While the liquid is boiling, while whisking, add the flour/water mixture slowing, keep whisking so it doesn't form lumps.  Lower the flame to Med, is the gravy getting thick? Lower the flame to simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.  Now is the gravy at the right thickness?  Or do you want it thicker, then add 2 TBS  flour and about 1/2 cup water to the jar, and shake and add it slowly to the gravy, whisking, but not too much, it will get TOO THICK.....if it's too thick, add a little water.  Taste it, what does it need, more salt, pepper, some chicken bouillon?  Add it, use your taste buds to help you make your gravy....that's what good cooks do, they taste their food! 

While your gravy is done and simmering on low, and your special person is carving the bird, now you can be getting all your serving dishes filled with the glorious meal, putting ice in the cups, pouring the drinks.Yes, do all this before everyone sits down!  Be organized, light the candles, is everything in place?  But not the food, the food should never be on the table before your guests sit down...it will not stay HOT....people like small-talk, they don't always rush to the table, you may have a slow, "never stop talking person" at your dinner, so wait.....

Call everyone to the table, and don't put the food on it yet, let everyone sit first.  Pray, give thanks to our Lord for all His blessings, and for His faithfulness.  After the prayer, as the hostess, stand up, and take another  special person , but not your hubby, with you and bring each dish to the table giving it to your guests first, and one by one they can pass the food around, until everyone is served, I find this so much easier than putting the food on the table, reaching for this and that, you may overlook something.

Most of all enjoy the meal, enjoy your guests, sit back, relax, don't be up-tight, your guests will feel uncomfortable. This is Thanksgiving, it took you FOREVER to cook this meal!  Enjoy it all!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for! 

1 comment:

Walking on Sunshine... said...

I hate when people put the food on the table and everyone has to reach for the food. Pass the food one person at a time till everyone is served.