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Old 11-15-2015, 02:48 PM   #1
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Turkey talk, advice please

I am going to purchase an 18 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving. How long will it take to thaw,and how long will it take to roast?Also, I want to make my sides a day ahead and refrigerate them so I will just have to reheat them while the turkey rests.We are having turkey and gravy, dressing, green bean casserole, corn pudding and mashed potatoes. I'll bake a mince pie, an apple pie, and a pumpkin pie 2 days before the holiday.

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Old 11-15-2015, 03:26 PM   #2
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Turkey talk, advice please

My last turkey, around 18 pounds, took at least five days to thaw. There was still some icyness in the cavities. Make sure you put it on a tray while defrosting. Use a meat thermometer for roasting while following the general guidelines on the package.

I've always made my dressing and other sides in advance. You can make a "starter" gravy in advance, then add the drippings and fond from the turkey later, after roasting it.
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Old 11-15-2015, 04:11 PM   #3
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Get a really big cooler. Make a classic turkey brine. Put frozen turkey into the brine.
Depending on the room temp the cooler is in the turkey should be thawed and brined in a couple of days.
Rinse thawed turkey with cold water very well. Pat as dry as you can. Leave thawed turkey uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out the skin.
Preheat oven to NO MORE than 210F. That's right 210F.
Rub some Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper all over the bird. NO OLIVE OIL/BUTTER!!!!!!!!!! on/under the skin. NO stuffing. Leave the legs untied. This will allow for the heat to cook the bird better from the inside. In goes the turkey.
Obviously you NEVER cover the turkey while roasting with anything or you will totally ruin the bird.
Check the deep internal temp. until the temp. reaches 155 degrees.
Now crank up the heat to screaming hot like broiling settling.
Turn on the oven light and watch as the skin goes from horrible looking to a golden brown.
Then remove the turkey and let it rest for at least an hour very lightly covered.
Then you can go ahead and carve the best roast turkey you have ever had.
I gave these precise instructions to a couple of newlyweds neither of which had ever cooked a turkey before. There's was a 25 pounder!
The next week they came to me and said "we followed your instructions to the letter and the turkey turned out to be the best any of our family and friends had ever had.
The key is to follow the instructions to the letter.
Here's an example of how not following these simple instructions spells failure:
"I did what you said except I didn't have any Kosher salt so I just rubbed regular table salt all over the turkey and it was a bit too salty".
Or: Part way through roasting I got worried the turkey wouldn't be done in time so I turned up the oven to 450F. The turkey turned out dry. Especially the breast meat".
Get the picture?
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Old 11-15-2015, 06:17 PM   #4
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Rely on the Butterball experts for all your questions regarding turkey preparation.
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Old 11-15-2015, 07:37 PM   #5
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When all else fails, you can go this route.

Bacon-wrapped turkey: The ultimate Thanksgiving bird - TODAY.com

Happy Eating!
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Old 11-15-2015, 09:04 PM   #6
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If one thing is clear after 12 Thanksgivings on this site, it is that there is more than one way to cook a great Thanksgiving turkey.

I've been using Alton Brown's Good Eats turkey recipe with great success.
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
If one thing is clear after 12 Thanksgivings on this site, it is that there is more than one way to cook a great Thanksgiving turkey.
Agreed. The key is to use a meat thermometer and be a bit flexible about dinnertime
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Old 11-15-2015, 10:35 PM   #8
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Turkey talk, advice please

Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Agreed. The key is to use a meat thermometer and be a bit flexible about dinnertime

My family all make bets on how close my estimate of dinner time will be to the time we actually eat.
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Old 11-16-2015, 06:30 AM   #9
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If we're just doing plain roasted turkey, we always get a Butterball and I follow their directions as far as cooking times/temps, though I do start the turkey breast side down for about half the cooking time. Caveat though, we don't get any bigger than a 12-13 pound turkey, nor do we stuff it at first so it's not hard to flip even when hot. Once I flip it, I'll sometimes put in enough stuffing for about 2 servings using a piping bag with a big hole cut or just a plastic bag with a big hole cut off a corner. DH likes to have a bit of stuffing, as well as dressing. And the stuffing I use for him doesn't have anything in it that needs to cook as all the aromatics in it have already been cooked. It basically just soaks up the juices in the cavity.

If you're worried about having enough fridge room to thaw a turkey that big, consider getting 2 smaller ones. They'll be easier to handle and you'll cut down on your oven time that way too.

We have brined a turkey before as Puffin suggested and they do come out really good. Never used his method of cooking though, just the usual time/temps for turkey. Another reason for no stuffing though is that it will get too salty from the juices. You also can't use the juices for gravy as it will be too salty, at least with the recipe for brine that we have used.

And we're also flexible about dinnertime. We usually come out pretty close to time but nearly always later rather than earlier.
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Old 11-16-2015, 07:57 AM   #10
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As far as sides go, what sides are you asking about? Stuffing is definitely not a problem to prepare ahead but if you are making green beans, I would not recommend precooking them.


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Old 11-16-2015, 09:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
Get a really big cooler. Make a classic turkey brine. Put frozen turkey into the brine.... snipped ...
A word from some one who has done this if I might...

Check the packaging on your bird!
Do not I repeat DO NOT brine anything that has been "Enhanced with...water and salt..."
BIG MISTAKE!
My turkey was so salty it was not edible!
We had a bunch of side dishes and pie that year... the bird went to the trash

Since moving to the mainland, I am able to buy fresh Turkeys and I always ask the meat person/butcher if the bird has been treated in any way.
I like Sprouts the best, super nice product.
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Old 11-16-2015, 10:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaneohegirlinaz View Post
A word from some one who has done this if I might...

Check the packaging on your bird!
Do not I repeat DO NOT brine anything that has been "Enhanced with...water and salt..."
BIG MISTAKE!
My turkey was so salty it was not edible!
We had a bunch of side dishes and pie that year... the bird went to the trash

Since moving to the mainland, I am able to buy fresh Turkeys and I always ask the meat person/butcher if the bird has been treated in any way.
I like Sprouts the best, super nice product.
Sorry. I assumed wrongly that the turkey had not been 'enhanced'. I roast only heritage breeds which have been raised free range.
I know it's to possible for everyone to have free range turkeys. Do not brine any store bought turkey which has been 'enhanced'.
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:48 AM   #13
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I am making a green bean casserole and a corn pudding. If I can assemble them ahead and refrigerate until the next day, that would be perfect. What do you think?
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Old 11-16-2015, 11:52 AM   #14
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I say go for it. I make a scalloped corn dish in the CP, then reheat the next day. I've also preassembled green bean casserole.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:10 PM   #15
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I second the advice regarding roasting the bird breast side down for the first half of roasting time.
I dry my fresh bird in the fridge uncovered for at least two days. Then a butter massage and heavily seasoned inside and out. One more day seasoned in fridge and its ready for the rack "upside down"!

Use extreme caution when doing this as the turkey is heavy and not easy to turn over.
Two people is better and something you can pass through the bird to pick it up also helps. I have used my knife steel for this before.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:43 PM   #16
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I always cook the birds breast side down. Makes for a moister bird.
Of course I also think chickens need a bacon blanket.
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:10 PM   #17
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I always cook the birds breast side down. Makes for a moister bird.
Of course I also think chickens need a bacon blanket.
Well on post #5 you now have the recipe! Go for it and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:13 PM   #18
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There are many (foolproof) methods for cookign a great turkey. Puffin's idea is a great one. But so again is the idea of cooking the bird entirely at 425' F until the meat thermometer reads 155 in the thickest part of the white meat. All methods that are espoused, and that work, share a couple things in common.
1. Don't stuff the bird
2. Remove the bird from the heat when the internal temp reads between 155' and 160' F.
3. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 15 mintues before carving
4. Season simply, though placing seasonings under the breast skin will add flavor to the flesh, as will brining.
5. Once the bird is cooking, basting will nto produce a more flavorful, or succulent bird. The skin of all animals was created to keep what's outside of the animal outside, and not allow penetration. Put that baster away. Basting simply cools the oven and makes for longer cooking times.
6. Remove the whole turkey breasts from either side of the breast bone, and slice against the grain, giving everyone a bit of that crispy skin.
7. Save the oysters for yourself and someone special, like a grandaughter, or spouse. It's the cooks treat to share and is the best meat on the bird.
8. Whether you like the giblets, neck, and livers, or not, simmer them to make a flavorful broth that can be added to the tukey drippings to make a fabulous gravy.

Other than roasting to an internal temp of 155-160, and letting the bird rest before carving, choose the cooking method that looks best to you, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. And don't forget to be thankful for what you have, be it family, friends, a place to live, or whatever.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roll_Bones View Post
I second the advice regarding roasting the bird breast side down for the first half of roasting time.
I dry my fresh bird in the fridge uncovered for at least two days. Then a butter massage and heavily seasoned inside and out. One more day seasoned in fridge and its ready for the rack "upside down"!

Use extreme caution when doing this as the turkey is heavy and not easy to turn over.
Two people is better and something you can pass through the bird to pick it up also helps. I have used my knife steel for this before.
I have never cooked a bird breast-side down, on the grill, or in the oven. My turkeys come out ridiculously juicy and tender. Plus, I advise against this practice as accidentally dropping a hot bird into teh pan could result in scalded skin on the cook. I know what a severe burn feels like, not from cooking, but from a different kind of accident. The pain lasts for many months and is extreme.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:20 PM   #20
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Well said Chief!

Can we assume your wife is going to be sitting beside you at the holiday table? You have had a rough year. And now you and your wife are out of the woods. Something to definitely be thankful for.
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