Canadian Thanksgiving 2010: WARNING! Graphic Photos of a Naked Turkey (PG RATING)!
At lunch, a week or two ago with my dear friend, Shirley, we were discussing Thanksgiving plans. Of course, the menu came up and that is when I learned (remembered) that Shirley has never cooked a turkey in her life. (She is my age.) She has had the good fortune of always celebrating the holidays with her parents, and her dad was the “Turkey King”. Sadly, Shirley lost her dad a couple of years ago. Her mom took over and did him proud! Now, anyone who prepares turkey dinners knows that this is the easiest meal of any big meal to prepare. Am I right? So, I was about to tell Shirley how easy it was when she quickly put her fingers in her ears and sang the “la-la” song. I love her!
Shirley, you don’t know what you are missing! This one is for you, dear friend.
Buy a bird. They are better fresh and from the farmer’s market. You need to pre-order and even then, there are long line ups pick up day. Frozen, factory manufactured birds do not compare.
Place your bird in your sink. Unwrap it. Remove whatever it in the inner cavity. Usually the hear, gizzard and neck are there. Set them aside. Wash the bird thoroughly. Do NOT use soap! Pat it dry and then stuff it as follows. (Some people swear by brining their bird. This is turkey 101. Don’t brine. If you master this, then consider trying the brining. I have done it and my birds are just as juicy without brining; thus, I do not brine. If I have to do a side-by-side taste test to tell the difference, why brine? Buy a good bird. Convince me readers!)
Make your stuffing before taking your bird out of the wrapper. Place the bird in the roasting pan on its back and face the open cavity toward you, thusly. Pre-heat your oven to 325Â°F and tak out all of the racks except move one to the very bottom position. Stuff it!
Do not pack it in densely, but pack it in firmly. You may (and probably will) need to use the other end of the turkey for the remainder of your stuffing. Turn the turkey around lift up the skin tucked under it at the back. See the hidden cavity there?
Stuff as much as you can with out packing it in tightly (but do pack it in firmly) in the large cavity. Butchers usually have cut a layer of skin and pulled the legs though it to keep them together. YOu will have to pull the legs out of this to stuff the bird.
This turkey is plenty stuffed at this point (below).
Tuck the legs back into the skin to hold them together (and to keep the dressing snuggly in place. Place the neck under the legs here to include in the roasting. In our family, we fight over the neck.
Turn the pan around and lift up the flap of skin. Stuff in the remainder of the dressing. You can actually even push it up under the skin if you have more than the small cavity will hold. The skin seperates from the bird quite easily.
Replace the flap of skin over the stuffing and tuck it back under the bird.
Look at this beautiful baby! This pan belonged to my fraternal grandmother. She brought it with her from Ireland in the 1920’s when the family moved here to escape starvation there. (Just in time for our own “dirty thirties”!) I love this pan. It makes the BEST turkeys and roasts. However, I can see the lid is not going to fit over this 19.7 pound bird. If your lid fits, place it snuggly over the bird.
Excuse me for a minute. I am still admiring this beautiful bird from Greens Eggs & Ham, and taking a small moment to give thanks for the bounty in my life.
I hope you have heavy gage tinfoil. The light easily rip-able stuff is not very useful for anything, but it is particularly useless for this. Cover your bird tightly. I locked two pieces of the foil together, and then used that larger piece to cover the pan, tucking the edges tightly over the pan to ensure the steam is captured inside of the roaster.
Ensure you have pre-heated your oven to 325Â°F and place the bird on the bottom rack. close the door quickly to not let the heat escape. Set the timer 20 minutes per pound. And no peeking. It will be FINE.
About 30 minutes before you expect it done, take a look. You may have to remove your cover to brown the bird. I never have to. It is always this golden and perfectly done at exactly 20 minutes a pound, but I do always check it. I do not salt and pepper the skin. No one eats it, but if you do, season it before roasting. I prefer to season the gravy after the turkey is cooked. Be careful to not over season the bird as that will affect your drippings, and then, your gravy.
Vanja is delighted (and ravenous)! I actually started the carving before a photo, so replaced the legs and took the pics. You can definitely tell, but this is a really gorgeous bird.
At this point, I get out two platters: one for the carved meat that is oven proof for warming, and a large sided Pyrex continer for the turkey soup bones. Below, I have carved a good portion of the turnkey and then continue to remove the stuffing. Sometimes I remove all of the stuffing first. It just depends upon how easy the bird is to work with, how much fat it is now floating in, and how well done the meat is.
Once all of the stuffing is removed into the serving bowl, I cover it to keep it warm and continue. Above, there is still a lot of dark meat under the bird to be dealt with . I tend to leave a generous amount of meat on the carcass as we like a meaty soup. Make the gravy with the drippings and you are done!
Table is set. Casual this year as the expected future son-in-laws parents were unable to attend. Casual is sometimes better for a family holiday meal.
Mom brought her famous buns. Her recipe has eggs and sugar and butter in it. They are a traditional family favourite.
Mom and dad are both 80 and going strong. They will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next month. I know I am so lucky to have them both. That is a huge reason to be thankful during this wonderful harvest season.
So, Shirley, take your fingers out of your ears and sing the La-La song while you roast your first turkey this Christmas. I double dare ya! OX