Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey Yada Yada

Right now there are thousands of "new and improved" turkey recipes floating around on blogs and throughout the internet telling you how to make the most perfect, moist turkey. However, how many of those recipes are stress-free? How many require the turkey to be perfectly timed or executed with the stress hanging over your head that you may have dried out your bird and there will be no way to tell until carving time?

Well, believe it or not, I know a truly stress-free way of making turkey for the big Thanksgiving dinner. Pssst! And guess what? You can make it days in advance and have it amazingly delicious and JUICY on the big day! No kidding, I promise.

Amazing Crock Pot Turkey, My Mom's Style:

What you need:

- a raw, thawed turkey
- an oven baking bag (You can get special plastic bags at the store that you cook your turkey in that speed up the cooking big time. I had a medium turkey cook in an hour and a half! Reynolds is the only brand that I know of.)
- spices, salt & pepper
- crock pot/slow cooker

Two or three days before Thanksgiving - 

Mix up your favorite spices in a bowl. I usually put in a tablespoon each of rosemary, onion powder, thyme, cracked pepper, and whatever else I feel like throwing in there. You can even add celery seed or sage if you like. Keep in mind that whatever you add is what your turkey will taste like - not just the skin, but the meat too because we'll be using all the turkey juices to stew the meat in.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt according to taste and mix the spices up well.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Rinse off your turkey and be sure to remove any "extras" from inside the turkey's rib cage cavity. Save them though!

Place your turkey on a clean, non-wooden surface (Wood absorbs meat juices. Yikes!) and taking a handful of your spice mix, start lovingly rubbing it into your turkey's skin. Okay, it doesn't have to be lovingly. Vigourously rub your spice mix into your turkey's skin. Rub the turkey all over - on the bottom, under the wings - everywhere on the outside - until your spice rub has been used up.

Follow the directions for the oven baking bag (usually you have to put a tablespoon of flour in the bag and shake it around). Holding the turkey by its legs, place your turkey in the bag breast-side up, add in the extras you removed before, secure the tie, and place it in your baking pan. Make a few vent holes in the bag with scissors or a sharp knife.

Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 to 16 lb. turkey, 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey, and 3 to 3 1/3 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey, or until the meat thermometer reads 180ºF.

Once the turkey is done baking, the leg should move easily in its socket. Allow the turkey to cool for a half hour to an hour. Have a large container very close by. Cut the bag and carefully remove the turkey to the holding container. Be careful! It may fall apart in transit. (This is years of experience talking!) Allow it to cool until it is comfortable to touch. In the meantime, pour all the juices into a large container, or a few smaller ones. Cover, and put these in the fridge.

Notice the fat floating on top of the broth?

Once the turkey is cool enough to touch, you'll need to debone it. That's right! No carving ritual here, people! Put the meat into containers and put it in the fridge.

And guess what? You're done! It's amazing! It's a miracle! Now sit back and relax with a warm apple cider.

The morning of the big day - 

Take out the container of juices. The fat will have risen to the top and solidified. Remove the fat and then put the jelly-fied juices into your crock pot. Next, remove your turkey meat and put it into the crock pot with the juices. Depending on when your dinner is, set your crock pot to low (think 4-6 hours) or high (think 2-3 hours). 

And now cackle with glee, because you are totally done! Your turkey will sit there simmering in its lovely herbed juices while you go skipping out of the kitchen to spend quality time with family. And come dinner time - ooooh, delicious juicy turkey! Trust me. You'll never go back to those carved slabs of cardboard again!
Mmm! Juicy turkey!

Happy Turkey Day (early - just like your crock pot turkey!)

*baking info:

1 comment:

Casey said...

I'm so glad you posted this because making my own Turkey is the one thing I'm scared of. Luckily I haven't had to do it yet but now I have a sure fire recipe to use when the time does come!! Huzzah!

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