If I were condemned to the firing squad, and able to pick my last meal, it would likely be the traditional thanksgiving meal. It wouldn’t be just any turkey, stuffing and gravy though, it would have to be the one I grew up eating.
Thanksgiving was a big day at my house growing up. My father was the gourmet cook in my house and left the day in and day out cooking drudgery to my mom (sorry mom). At one point when I was a young child he found his way to the following turkey, gravy and stuffing recipes. He liked to experiment, but we would never let him deviate from this.
I rarely get to cook on Thanksgiving. My wife’s family is somewhat large and very local, so typically it is hosted elsewhere. I miss cooking it so much that the other week I made the whole thing. So I am happy to announce:
Thanksgiving Week on The Rantings of an Amateur Chef!
Today: the bird
Wednesday: the best gravy you’ll ever taste
Friday: mashed potatoes
Saturday: cranberry dressing
Sunday: apples and carrots
First the turkey….
This bird is cooked low and slow and basted every 30 minutes. The skin turns out so beautiful and tasty.
This turkey was a big one – 22 pounds. I purchased it frozen so I took it out of the freezer on Tuesday morning and put it in the fridge. It took all that time to thaw for me to start cooking it on Sunday.
I chose to stuff the bird with dressing. I know there are many out there that warn you not to do it as by the time you get the inner cavities up to temperature the outside is dry, but we’ve never had any issues in dozens of attempts and the stuffing becomes so tasty.
Rubbing the outside with butter helps to drive that nice brown color.
The key to this bird is the basting. A combo of butter and red wine. You may have to start with that combination for the first four bastings before you have enough to baste from the drippings. Don’t skimp here. If you are going to continue on and make the gravy, you’ll want quite a bit to work with.
Turkeys 13 pounds or smaller should be cooked with the breast up those larger should be cooked with the breast down as this will help keep the breast meat juicy. Basting every 30 minutes for many hours can be a chore but you’ll be happy you did.
The turkey just falls apart when done.
My plate of deliciousness!!
- About 3 Cups of Burgundy Wine
- 1 lb of Butter (possibly more)
- 1 Turkey*
- Turkey Lacings
* Frozen turkeys will require several days of defrosting in the refrigerator (the preferred way) or ½ to 1 day with cold running water. Give yourself ½ day margin.
Preheat oven to 325°.
Take the turkey out of the bag; remove the gizzards and neck, run water in both cavities and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the insides with butter.
Pack, not tight, both cavities with dressing. Lace closed both openings. Lace the wings over the breast.
Place turkey on sturdy rack in pan. For turkeys 13 lbs or less, place the turkey breast up. For turkeys 14 lbs or greater, place the turkey breast down.
The general guidelines for turkey is 15 minutes per pound. As the oven is opened a lot for basting in this recipe, here are some revised timings: turkeys up to 14 pounds should cook for 19 minutes per pound. Turkeys between 15 and 19 pounds should cook for 18 minutes per pound. Turkeys between 20 and 24 pounds should cook for 17 minutes per pound. Turkeys between 25 and 30 pounds should cook for 16 minutes per pound.
Plan on removing the turkey from the oven 30 minutes prior to serving. Place turkey in the oven.
Every ½ hour baste the turkey. The first few bastings should be basted with a mixture of ¾ cup of wine and ¼ cup of melted butter. Later bastings should be performed using the drippings in the pan.
After 1 hour, you may need to cover the top of the turkey to protect it during cooking. Don’t wait for it to be perfectly browned before you do this as it will continue to brown under the foil, just more slowly.
When the turkey has cooked for the prescribed time and reached the desired temperature, remove from the oven, set aside and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove stuffing from cavities and keep warm.
After the turkey “rests” under foil for no less than 20 min (I give it 25), carve the turkey and serve.