Cooking My First Thanksgiving Turkey

Sorry about the lack of posts here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen lately, I tried getting a few posts in the works before taking off for Ohio for Thanksgiving, but the end of the week was pretty empty. But, never fear, I’ve got plenty of posts in the works including this one which I didn’t even have planned!

I went into this Thanksgiving thinking I wasn’t going to be cooking anything, which was kind of a bummer because I like cooking and I like contributing. Traveling 10 hours, though, doesn’t leave you a ton of time to make something. But then, on Thanksgiving morning, while we watched the Macy’s parade, my mom asked if I’d be interested in handling the turkey. I read through the Martha Stewart recipe and it seemed simple enough, so I gladly volunteered. I don’t have a lot of the specifics about the ingredients and what not because I didn’t mark the page in the cookbook and I didn’t take a ton of pictures, but the process was pretty simple.

First and most importantly, I made a timeline at mom’s suggestion. I counted out how many hours the whole thing was supposed to take and then counted back from a possible eating time of 5:30PM and plotted it out. I kept my watch on my arm most of the day and the timeline near the oven, so I wound up not having any trouble. I even got to run out and play football with my dad, uncles and cousins which was a lot of fun.

So, here’s the basics. First I washed the bird with cold water and let him sit for about an hour and forty five minutes. In that time, I mixed together a big chunk of butter and a bottle of wine. This was for basting throughout the day. It also served as a soaking dish for a four layer, 17-inch square of cheese cloth that would eventually go on the bird. At the designated time, I got the oven temperature up to 450, rubbed the bird down with butter, added salt and pepper and draped the cheese cloth over the body before popping him into the oven for 30 minutes.

A half hour later I dropped the temperature down to 350, basted and was on a baste-every-30-minutes routine for the next two and a half hours. At that point, I removed the cheese cloth, turned the turkey around in the oven for another hour and it was good to be taken out by the designated time. I’m actually not that big of a turkey fan, but everyone said it was a great turkey which either meant I did a good job or my relatives are really nice.

I’ve got to say, I’ve heard some horror stories about cooking turkeys, but this method turned out to be fairly simple and produced great results. However, I completely understand how hectic it would have been had I been in charge of everything. The only other thing I was in charge of was making the gravy which I will write more about tomorrow (it involves giblets!). If I ever do a whole Thanksgiving on my own, I think I’ll have to bust out the big three-foot wipe board to keep track of everything. Thanks again to Mom for giving me the opportunity to try something new and my family for not being too scared to eat the bird!


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