Turkey is one of the easiest things to cook, the main problem is taking it out on time so that it stays moist and tender. To that end, pay attention to roasting times and pop up thermometers. Get a meat thermometer and make sure you check the temp with that after the pop up – pops to be sure. Follow these suggestions for a wonderful tasting roasted turkey for your Thanksgiving (or even not Thanksgiving) bird.
- Defrost your turkey. You’ll need to keep it in the fridge for a few days in order for it to defrost. It takes longer with the giblet packet inside, so as soon as you can, take it out. If you didn’t leave enough time to defrost it totally, you will need to submerge your sealed Turkey in a big pot or sink full of cold water. Change the water every 1/2 hour. Whatever you do, put your arm all the way through from one end of the turkey to the other and make sure you get every single one of those giblet parts out.
- Turkey Brining – I talked about it here . Martha Stewart has a brining recipe if you want to make it yourself. Rinse turkey well and pat dry.
- Stuff the turkey – I like to cook my stuffing in a baking dish in the oven. If you like it in your turkey, then by all means stuff it. Add some cooking time in for the stuffing.
- Season the turkey – If you don’t have stuffing inside, throw in some garlic and herbs. Rub butter or olive oil over the skin of the turkey and throw some of your favorite herbs on top. Salt, pepper, sage, thyme. I throw onions and a little garlic in the side of the pan too.
- Cooking – My mom roasted the turkey in a Roasting Pan with an aluminum foil tent. My husband’s mom used a roasting bag and then in a pan. I use an electric Roasting Pan. My husband under the familiar protest that you don’t get your wife cooking gear for Christmas bought me one because I asked. I love it because I can keep the oven free for other things. I have tried with success cooking the turkey upside down for some of the time to let the juices travel better to the breast. Put the turkey in and leave it. Every time you open the oven it makes the oven heat up all over again.
- Timetable – From the Good Housekeeping Cookbook that I got as a wedding gift over 21 years ago.
Suggested temp 325 degrees.
8 – 12 lbs 3 1/2 – 4 hours
12 – 16lbs 4 – 4 1/2 hours
16 – 20 lbs 4 1/2 – 5 hours
20 – 24 lbs 5 – 6 hours
Subtract a half hour if it is unstuffed.
- Remove foil or bag for the last half hour of cooking to let the turkey brown.
- Let the turkey rest for a half hour before serving so that the juices settle.
- Make giblet gravy or any other gravy that you prefer.
- Carve and eat.
Another method of cooking a turkey is deep frying. However, any type cooking directions that includes keeping a fire extinguisher nearby makes me shake my head. I’ve heard it’s really good that way though and very moist.
For Big Green Egg lovers, here are directions to cooking a turkey on the BGE.
Of course, if you wait too long and you’re too tired, or you have to work, or you just don’t want to spend all day cooking or working on a turkey.. there’s always the supermarket pre-ordered, pre-cooked ready for pick up.
This is an updated repost from 2008.
Last night was our anniversary – and we spent the night alone without any kids, animals, noise – just the two of us spending time together. Tonight, we grilled chicken and had a salad, nothing really special, just a regular family meal. Later I was thinking about the anniversary and realized we didn’t do anything to involve the kids, so I told my husband if he ran out and picked up some ice cream I would quickly assemble a brownie (box mix). Since it’s summer and I hate heating up the house I wanted to try something new and grill it out on the deck .
I lined my cast iron grill pan with foil, sprayed it with some oil, then poured the mix in it. I placed the pan over the two middle burners which were turned on low. The two burners on the outside were on high. It baked rather quickly with the lid down and came out quite nice. When we are camping I bake biscuits and other things over the stove by flipping pans, but since the grill has a lid to keep in the heat, there’s no need to flip.
We served the warm brownies in a bowl with scoops of ice cream over top for our dessert and enjoyed it on the deck with dusk setting in. The family loves to eat all of our meals outside and with the new grill – we’ll be doing most of the cooking and it seems if we can get some more cast iron pans, maybe the baking too. Have you ever tried baking on the grill? Besides s’mores? What’s your favorite grilled dessert?Diana
The other day my friend and I were discussing barbecue and she was troubled because she had rubs but never used them because she didn’t know how. I’m learning a little bit about barbecue, and I’m willing to share my information with you. Add to the conversation and share what you know too.
- Rubs – It’s a dry mix of spices – also sometimes salt and sugars. After you cut away the fat, or if you don’t want it – the skin (I remove chicken skin) and generally prepare the meat, you sprinkle on the rub and give it a little patting or rubbing.
- Marinade – It’s a wet mix of spices, liquids etc, that you let your meat or fish hangout in for a little while before cooking. You can let a marinade sit for a half an hour or even over night. A marinade can be used to tenderize the meat by using an acid and oil. Don’t marinade fish for more than 30 minutes because the acid will cook the fish. Do not reuse the marinade as a sauce for cooked meat, because it will still have the uncooked juices in it. Discard and use a sauce .
- Brine – A salt water and spice mix that you soak the meat like a turkey or whole turkey in. The bird will need to be rinsed thoroughly before using. It may impart a salty flavor to the meat, but it will also probably be very tender. After rinsing you can put on a marinade or sauce before it goes on the grill – or even just a little oil and sprinkle on some herbs.
- Barbecue Sauce – This can be marinade you reserved and set aside before you poured it over the meat, it can be a brand new layer of flavor, or it can be your dry rub mixed with some wet ingredients to create a sauce. This sauce should be reserved for your almost done meat. Sauces sometimes burn if they are slathered on while the meat is cooking, so if you put it on a little before the meat is done, then you will impart the flavor without ruining it. As with the marinade, do not use again after the meat is finished cooking.
- Finishing sauce – This is the sauce you put on after the meat has finished cooking – something to add that final zing. You can place it on the meat, or serve it tableside for your guests to put on themselves.
Here’s the fun part, you can do a marinade, and then put on the rub or use the rub before a sauce, or use a marinade, then a rub then a sauce and a finishing sauce. Using one of these preparations doesn’t preclude you from using another, but also it isn’t required to use all for one meal. For my chicken breasts I like the rub taste to be on the chicken itself. So I put the rub on the chicken, then use some barbecue sauce as a marinade and let the chicken sit in it – either in a bag or bowl for a half hour. We put it on the grill and towards the end will slather on some more sauce. I like my sauce to be all cooked down into it, so I don’t put any finishing on it.
For my fish, I use a marinade with the rub in it. Use some more while I’m grilling and then make a dijonaise-dill sauce for table side.
For steak I like it mostly plain with a little oil, salt and pepper. I’ve been reading though that some cuts take to this more than others, so I’m experimenting to see how I like it best.
What’s your favorite way to prepare your favorite cut of meat? Do you have any suggestions?Diana
I think that some days cooking should be the project of the day. I know we think of gardening as a project, or changing the oil, or cleaning the gutters, but some days need to be set aside to accomplish a cooking project. While me may also think of Thanksgiving, or Christmas as a project, and it is, but I’m not referring to that in particular. Making Salsa was one of our projects this year. This weekend my kids are gone, which makes it a little easier. It’s snowing outside and that helps to reinforce that today is a good indoor project day.
I have a turkey carcass (my sister in law didn’t want it – can you believe my luck). It had some meat on it so I cooked everything in a pot of water. Then strained the broth into another pot, put everything out on pans to cool and removed all the meat. Then I stuck the bones, and skin and everything except the meat, along with onion – quartered, peels and all, plus some carrots, celery and chard ( we have it growing in the garden tunnel outside), salt and pepper back into the pot with all of the broth (and drippings I stole too, that she didn’t want -lucky, lucky me). I’m simmering the carcass for a good long while – around 12 hours. I will strain it, cool it, stick it in the fridge so that I can remove the fat. Then I will put the stock and some of the turkey I picked off into containers and freeze it. We will have turkey and noodles for dinner or turkey soup or whatever, but I will have the broth and meat separated and stored in the freezer in family dinner size portions.
Canning Cinnamon Apples
My husband and I are also cooking up roasting pans full of apples and cinnamon. For this I have the ultimate tool – an apple peeler. Not one of those hand held scrapers, but an apple peeler with a crank. You put the apples on and zzzzzzzippp, they are done. Then you core them. We have an apple corer and slicer that we inherited from my husband’s great aunt. My husband put together a bowl with water, and packets of true lemon and true orange.
After the apples are cored and slice, we drop them into the liquid, then transfer it to the roaster. My husband took all the peelings and cores, and juiced them, adding that to the roasters with the apples. I mixed in some cinnamon as we went along otherwise, the apples would make a mess when stirred. I covered the pans with foil and stuck it into the oven on low and will cook them until they start to get soft. We’ll cool them a little and then put them into hot pack jars with the liquid from the bottom of the pans. Then into the boiling water bath. These apples will be good with dinner instead of applesauce, or for desert with some oatmeal crumb on top.
Some families do cooking for the month all on one day. My father used to do that. He would make up big pots of soup and put it into single serving portions because his soup was much better than store bought. You can make big batches of lasagna and freeze family size portions or casseroles. One year my family had a cookie exchange, so we all baked up huge batches of cookies to swap.
Cooking projects are great for doing something now, that will save you time when you need it. Of course, cooking project night means leftovers because I don’t have time to cook a real dinner, but that’s okay too.
Freezer Cooking at Organize Home
Once a Month cooking at Dinners in the Freezer
Host a Christmas Cookie Swap at Myrecipes
Christmas Cookie recipes at Razzle Dazzle
Preserving Apples at Canning Pantry
Homemade Turkey Stock at Modern BeetDiana
I think the method of Thanksgiving cooking that is growing the most in popularity is turkey brining. I tried it out on a chicken, and the chicken turned out moist and tender. It has a little bit of a salty taste but not overly so. If you are on a salt free diet, I wouldn’t recommend it, but otherwise, it’s a delicious great tasting way to prep a turkey.
The Turkey Brine I used was Spice Hunter Turkey Brine. It contains: Sea salt, brown sugar, dried cranberries, dried apple, garlic, orange peel, juniper berries, Malabar black peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and sage. I wondered if you would be able to taste any of the other flavors in your turkey(chicken) and we could. I didn’t use any other seasonings when I roasted it because I wanted to see what the brine would do to the bird. So without any other seasonings when I roasted it, the chicken was flavorful. I got little bites of flavor here and there that were a delicious addition to the chicken.
Brining the Turkey.Diana
My husband and I were at a farmer’s market and he told me that he was outside and a woman came up to him. He said she pointed to the butternut squash and asked if you can eat it. He said yes, but not the skin. She asked him if you peel it and he said yes. I was inside or else I would have given a few more instructions, like maybe cooking would be a good idea since raw winter squash isn’t that tasty.
My basic way to deal with squash – quick and easy. Cut squash down the middle, scoop out seeds. Place in a buttered dish or with olive oil in a glass pan and bake at 425 until soft. Peel off skin, or scoop out insides, put back into buttered pan with a little more butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bake just a tad bit longer. Delicious. You can cut them into smaller pieces to make them cook faster also.
Another way is to cut off the very top and bottom, slice in half and using a very sharp peeler, or paring knife, peel the skin off, which isn’t easy. Then scoop out seeds, dice and cook in a buttered dish with a little butter and nutmeg.Deb Ng
Yes, I know last week was dorm cooking week but that doesn’t mean there isn’t great stuff to share. There are so many awesome resources and recipes available it would be a shame not to bring them to you here.
I give you 40 Dorm Recipes and Resources:
- College Dorm Fire Safety – Please read this first before attempting to cook in your dorm.
- Cooking in the Dorm – About.com Busy Cooks
- Dorm Room Recipes – The Baltimore Sun
- Dorm Room Dining Tips and Recipes – gwhatchet.com
- Dorm Room Cooking and Recipes – About.com Student Travel
- Beat the’Freshman 15′ with Dorm Room Recipes -udReview.com
- Dorm Room Cheesy Tuna and Noodles – AllRecipes.com
- Sweet Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks – The Eagle Online
- Recipes and Gadgets for Dorm Room Cooking – Parent Dish
- Recipes from the Dorm Room - Student Fitness
- Dorm Room Recipes -Peta2 (more…)
My daughter graduated from high school and is going on to college this month. For the last year we have been asking that gifts for Christmas, her birthday and graduation be centered around what she would need for college. We were trying to mitigate the damage to the bank account and be sensible. I had people ask if that was fair to ask her to give up other gifts and get things that were useful. I discussed this with my daughter and her opinion was that she’d rather get the things she needs and can use. She’s like me. We’re a frugal bunch.
My first best tip for Dorm life is - try the food in the cafeteria. It’s not a bad deal. In most instances you can get all you can eat and they will have a wide selection of foods. Especially get your servings of fresh fruit and vegetables there because fresh fruits and vegetables go bad easily and are expensive. CNN has an article this week that talks about our fridges turning into composters. We have good intentions that sometimes go bad or moldy because of time constraints.
My second best tip is learn how to use a microwave. Before you get there, make meals or foods and learn the ins and outs of microwave cooking. I’m sure most of you grew up with them, heating foods, defrosting, but I’m talking meals. Learn how to cook using anything but a stove and oven. Here are some Monkey See Videos on microwave cooking. Most of all never, ever, ever leave cooking unattended. Your friends will not like you if you burn popcorn.Deb Ng
It’s kitchen safety week here at Cookerati. This means that in addition to bringing you the best in food news, tips, recipes and product reviews, we’re going to share a few safety tips as well. Probably the most common kitchen accidents have to do with knives. I nearly severed limbs on more than one occasion, so I know of what I speak. Before you start chopping, slicing and dicing, check out these kitchen safety tips:
1. Make sure your knives are very sharp – The sharper the knife, the easier the chopping. Dull knives go through food with more difficulty upping the odds of your having a mishap.
2. Always lay knives flat on the counter or cutting board when taking a rest from your chopping. Leaving a knife with a blade sticking up or over the edge of a counter or sink is just asking for a hospital visit. (more…)Deb Ng
While we all have our own ideas about our must-have kitchen gadgets and items, we can all agree on certain items every kitchen can’t do without Some are simple tools, others require a bit of power but they are all needed and useful. Here are my must have kitchen items.
- Wooden spoon – So simple, yet so handy. Wooden spoons stir without scratching. Whether used for stirring drinks or a delicate sauce, there’s one in every kitchen I know.
- A good set of knives – Dull cheap knives won’t do when it comes to kitchen prep. We have a set of Henkels chef knives, which we love. A good, sharp set of knives is essential for every cook.
- Whisk – No, you’re not stirring, you’re whisking. A whisk can froth up scrambled eggs or mix up a batch of pancake batter. It combines your ingredients for a smooth, lump free end result.
- Pots and pans – Everyone argues over what is best. Copper, cast iron, Teflon. We have some of each we use for different things. For instance, we use our no sticks for eggs and the cast iron for frying fish (outside on the back deck, thank you very much.). We can get into tips for choosing pots and pans at another time, but it should be noted you get what you pay for. When it comes to your cooking vessels, you don’t necessarily want to go cheap. Do some research to find out the best product for your needs.
- Stand mixer – I used to use a hand mixer until my mother gave me a professional quality stand mixer for Christmas a few years ago. I will never go back! Not only could I see the difference in my batters and bakes, but I could taste the difference. All my baked goods came out fluffier and more flavorful. Granted, a good stand mixer will cost you a pretty penny, but it’s more than worth it.
- Spatulas – A good set of spatulas are necessary for mixing, scrambling, folding and scraping. Like the wooden spoon, every home cook I know has several and none can do without.
- Tongs – This wouldn’t have been on my list before I met my husband, but it is now. I use our tongs cooking AND serving. When I was young we used tongs for two things -spaghetti and ice cubes. Now we use them to flip items on the grill, serve meats and noodles to our guests and more.
- Baking Pans – I have several different varieties – again something we’ll get more into detail next time. Keep in mind when baking that certain flavors stay in the pans long after washing. So I like to have pans for breads and desserts, roasting pans for meats and ceramic baking dishes for casseroles.
- Basting Brush – Basting brushes are perfect for buttering pie crusts and pastries and marinating meats. Get one if you don’t have one – you’ll wonder what took you so long.
- Coffee grinder – Fresh ground coffee is the best, no doubt. A coffee grinder can also be used for grating cheeses and chopping herbs.
What are your must have kitchen items?
Image via stock xchnge