Before we get to the actual cooking of the bird, I have to tell you about my great turkey fail of 1995.
I was in my early 20’s and had yet to try my hand at making the whole Thanksgiving dinner on my own.
But this year, I had read my latest issue of Martha Stewart that arrived weeks before in the mail,
and I felt confident.
I can cook a turkey, and it’s not that hard.
Well, here is the good news, the turkey was easy to cook.
It smelled amazing,
the drippings were waiting to be turned into a wonderful gravy.
I had done it!
A HUGE success…
And we forgot to push the big thermometer back in after the last a final basting.
The thermometer broke and the mercury went all over.
Being a brave and hungry group, we decided to cut the turkey in half and eat the half that we didn’t think
had mercury in it.
We survived, but I do not recommend this method of turkey preparation.
There is a far easier way and I am going to share with you how I have made about 30 turkeys since then with
no issues or tears.
I know, lamesauce but I was really upset and I was also convinced that I would be in the next Holiday issue
standing beside Martha in all our turkey glory.
Until the mercury part.
If you make it through and never do this, you have a huge leg up on me (pardon the turkey pun)
and my attempts at making the perfect turkey.
Let’s cook a turkey, shall we?
I remove the neck and innards, wash the turkey and pat it dry, then place it in my roasting pan to prep.
I like to rub a good coat of olive oil inside an outside of the turkey, sprinkle some salt, pepper and Italian
seasoning all over the inside and outside and heat the oven up to 425 degrees.
Remember to remove one rack from the oven so the bird is in the center not the top of the oven when it’s in
the roasting pan. I cook it for one hour at this temperature, no matter how many pounds the bird is, breast side up.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven, baste well, cover the roasting pan snugly with heavy duty aluminum
foil and reduce temperature to 325 degrees and cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 more hours, checking your temperature
towards the end of the cook time. Once it reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat, that turkey should
But if you are not sure, give the leg a wiggle when you remove the foil, if it easily moves around and begins
to come off, plus your temp has reached 165, you are ready to remove it from the oven and let it rest.
Let the turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving, and don’t forget to hang onto the turkey carcass.
I like to put every bit of the turkey after carving and removing the meat, in the slow cooker and cover it with water.
Cook on low all night or all day, you will have an amazing stock for some turkey rice soup in the days to follow.
Just use a large strainer to separate the bones and remaining meat and stock.
As you can see, my turkey is in a roasting pan, and not looking super fancy.
But it’s juicy and tender, and I have a whole bunch of hungry folks standing by ready to devour it.
So I have to take this picture before they come inside and ask me if dinner is ready.
Here is a handy table to use for food temperature, and minimum cooking time:
Why the Rest Time is Important
After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time.
During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
|Category||Food||Temperature (°F)||Rest Time|
|Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures||Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb||160||None|
|Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb||Steaks, roasts, chops||145||3 minutes|
|Poultry||Chicken & Turkey, whole||165||None|
|Poultry breasts, roasts||165||None|
|Poultry thighs, legs, wings||165||None|
|Duck & Goose||165||None|
|Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)||165||None|
|Pork and Ham||Fresh pork||145||3 minutes|
|Fresh ham (raw)||145||3 minutes|
|Precooked ham (to reheat)||140||None|
|Eggs & Egg Dishes||Eggs||Cook until yolk and white are firm||None|
|Leftovers & Casseroles||Leftovers||165||None|
|Seafood||Fin Fish||145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.||None|
|Shrimp, lobster, and crabs||Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.||None|
|Clams, oysters, and mussels||Cook until shells open during cooking.||None|
|Scallops||Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.||None|
I just realized I don’t think I have ever bought scallops. But if I do, I will have this chart handy just in case.
Well, we did it.
We made a turkey, it’s tender on the inside, crisp on the outside and everyone (including Martha and I)
all agree that you make a super kick butt turkey.
And you didn’t break the thermometer!
If you have a turkey fail, please leave a comment sharing your turkey drama,
remember my mercury turkey of 1995, it doesn’t get too much worse than that.