If your Mom or Buba or Sister or Adult foodie daughter cannot come over to your kitchen early Thanksgiving morning to help with your holiday cooking, I’ve got some great step-by-step advice to ensure your great success. Starting with the basics:
A fresh turkey needs no thawing, but it is generally more expensive than a frozen.
Thaw turkey in wrapper in refrigerator (about three to four days) or in cold water (in kitchen sink), changing water frequently to keep cool.
Remove neck and giblets from inside cavity; refrigerate (and later cook to use with gravy). Rinse turkey and drain well.
Stuff cavity with a few aromatic vegetables, for flavor only a few stalks of celery, a peeled, whole onion, possibly some whole, cleaned carrots, a few sprigs of fresh herbs, and you might also include an unpeeled orange, halved. The actual stuffing that I serve to accompany my turkey is baked in a separate casserole, and basted with turkey pan juices.
Turn wings back to hold neck skin in place. If untucked, return legs to tucked position. No trussing is necessary.
Place turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in open pan, about two inches or more deep.(I like the disposable turkey pans.)
Insert meat thermometer deep into thickest part of the thigh next to body, not touching bone.
Brush skin with oil. (I use olive oil) to prevent skin from drying. Further basting is unnecessary, unless you are the kind of cook, like me, who prefers to occasionally baste with chicken broth, pan juices, and/or other preferred seasoned liquid. This gives us a nurturing feeling.
Or, for a terrific change, do not baste. Try the herb rub method that I am featuring in this column rub turkey with herb paste/ herb mixture, wrap in foil well and oven bake at three hundred and fifty degrees for the first one and a half hours. Recipe follows.
Re basic roasting times for an unstuffed, whole turkey, with oven temperature at three hundred and twenty-five degrees: six to eight pounds — two and one-fourth to three and one-fourth hours, eight to twelve pounds –three to four hours, twelve to sixteen pounds – three and one-half to four and one-half hours, sixteen to twenty pounds — four to five hours, and twenty to twenty-four pounds – four and one-half to five and one-half hours. Stuffed turkeys require approximately one hour more. Note that these times are approximates, due to size of turkey and your oven.
To check for doneness: internal thigh temperature should be one hundred and eighty to one hundred and eighty five degrees, center of stuffing (if stuffed) should be one hundred sixty to one hundred and sixty five degrees. Thigh and drumstick meat should feel soft. When thigh is pierced, juices should be clear, not pink.
Never partially cook your turkey. Finish cooking once started.
Let turkey stand fifteen to twenty minutes for easier carving.
With all the suggestions that I have shared with you, tell your loved family women (or men) folk that this year they can simply arrive prior to the feast, hungry, to be your guest. No last-minute cooking is necessary. Or, you can ask them to bring the appetizers, salads, and desserts.
HERB ROASTED TURKEY
The following rub is for a twenty-pound turkey. The fresh herb paste/mixture provides an unusual taste and exterior crust.
One half cup Dijon mustard
One half cup olive oil
One fourth cup soy sauce
Juice of four lemons
One half cup chopped fresh Italian leaf parsley
One half cup chopped fresh oregano
One third cup chopped fresh sage
One fourth cup minced fresh chives
Three garlic cloves, peeled minced
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, using a wire whisk blend the mustard, olive oil, and soy sauce. Add the lemon juice and all herbs, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Place turkey on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, in a roasting pan. Rub turkey well with herb mixture. Cover turkey with foil and bake in a preheated three-hundred-and-fifty-degree oven for fifteen to twenty minutes per pound. After one and a half hours, remove foil cover and continue to bake, basting every fifteen minutes until done. Note for my twenty-plus pound turkey, roasting time was approximately six hours.
This can-opener tzimmes is a pleasure to prepare. It is a delicious alternative to a mashed sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. For a larger serving, simply proportionately increase ingredients.
One twenty-nine ounce can yams, with liquid
One twenty-ounce can pineapple chunks, packed in juice, with liquid
One eleven-ounce can Mandarin oranges, drained
One fourth cup honey, brown sugar or granulated sugar (I prefer the honey)
One half teaspoon powdered ginger, or more to taste
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Spoon yams into a large saucepan. Add all remaining ingredients. Taste for desired degree of sweet or tart. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed, approximately fifteen minutes or longer, and mixture is nicely glazed.
Yield: Approximately eight servings.
MY CLASSIC CRANBERRY- ORANGE SAUCE
Every year, I get requests from my friends and readers to share this simple, classic recipe. My family expects and looks forward to it. You can prepare the sauce several days in advance.
Two twelve-ounce packages fresh cranberries
One and two thirds cups fresh orange juice (with some pulp)
Rind of one orange, coarsely chopped
One fourth cup orange liqueur
Two cups sugar
Two whole cinnamon sticks
In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, juice, rind, orange liqueur and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and add cinnamon sticks. Gently boil for about eight minutes, stirring often. Cool. Remove cinnamon sticks and store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Yield: Five to six cups.