If you always have company over for the holidays, you know it is easy to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving. You also know that it is time consuming. Most cooks plan on getting up early and, depending on the size of the turkey, spending three to six hours in the kitchen.
If this is your first time cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner, here are directions to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving.
When you are at the grocery store to purchase your turkey, plan on at least 1 pound or more per person. It is always better to have more than not enough and everyone loves turkey leftovers the next day. Turkeys are usually available anywhere from 8 pounds to 30 pounds.
Before beginning to cook your turkey, remove the neck, liver, heart and other parts. These parts are usually found together in a small paper bag inside the turkey. Some cooks discard the parts; some cooks add them to their turkey stuffing. (Some people save the parts for their pets as a special Thanksgiving treat.)
The next step is to wash and dry your turkey completely inside and outside, and begin to preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
You can cook your turkey for Thanksgiving with or without stuffing. If you are planning to stuff your turkey, prepare your stuffing next.
Chop up some onions, mushrooms and celery. Saute these vegetables with a little oil in a pan on your cooktop until the onions are clear and soft. Add a package of bread crumbs along with the small packet of herbs that comes with the bread crumbs. Add some turkey or chicken broth a little at a time to get the correct consistency. Lastly, add a beaten egg to hold the stuffing together. Mix well.
Do not make the stuffing ahead of time. Dangerous bacteria can form over a period of time from the combination of the bread crumbs and the heat and moisture from the vegetables.
Immediately stuff the large cavity of your turkey with the stuffing. Since it is important that your stuffing be cooked thoroughly, do not overstuff your turkey. Leave room for your stuffing to increase in size while it is cooking inside your turkey.
Place a rack into your large turkey roasting pan. To cook your turkey, place it on the rack in the roasting pan with the breast side up. Brush your turkey with melted butter and sprinkle it with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. If you have a meat thermometer, insert it into the breast area. Cover your turkey with the roasting pan lid or aluminum foil. (Don’t let the foil touch your turkey.) Place the roasting pan in your preheated oven at 325 degrees.
While cooking, your turkey will create its own broth. To cook your turkey so that is moist and juicy, baste it with a turkey baster every half hour. During the last half hour to fifteen minutes of cooking, sprinkle again with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, then lightly baste. But take care, do not add too much or your turkey will be salty. Also remove the roasting pan lid at this time, but watch carefully since you do not want your turkey to become dry.
The time needed to cook your turkey will depend on the size of the turkey, whether or not it is stuffed and the characteristics of your oven. An 8 pound turkey will take approximately 3 hours to cook. A 30 pound will take 6 hours or more. If it is stuffed, it will take longer to cook your turkey. If you have used a meat thermometer, it should read about 185 degrees when your turkey is done. In any case, your turkey should be a golden brown color when it is done. Cut off a small piece to test it first. After removing your turkey from the oven, let it cool before carving it.
By following these directions to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving, your guests will appreciate your time consuming efforts and enjoy your delicious meal.
Resources: Personal Knowledge