COOKING THE BIRD
Generally for the winter-time holidays in America the Turkey is the #1 item for both Thanksgiving (a tradition dating back to the 1600s) and Christmas (although lamb – a tradition dating back 5,000 years – or in modern times a ham are also served at Christmas).
Some people like dark meat and some like white meat. Some people have families some live alone or in pairs. For those with lots of bodies to feed (of differing taste buds) the full blown turkey is not only the best idea but the least expensive. Priced as low as 30 cents per pound (although a lot of it is bone).
For those alone or in pairs either a turkey breast (priced at $1.50 per pound, still a value) or turkey loaf (several companies such as Swift make these) might be a better deal. The rolled turkey loaf is cut up and processed white and dark meat made sort of like a skinless sausage. Some loafs are made with lots of real breast meat so they cut and taste just like fresh turkey.
A full turkey needs to be completely thawed. This means overnight in the sink or several days in the refrigerator. Full turkey’s generally have two plastic bags filled with “innards” and the neck packed inside both ends, so make sure you search the entire turkey before you cook it, least you get a melted plastic region!
The neck opening is usually tied with either nylon or wire, which is often hard to remove. Pull this assembly out completely and search inside the cavity for the body parts. Also search the rear end where they usually hide a second bag of parts.
Flush the entire turkey with cold water before cooking. This applies to the turkey breast as well.
For turkey loafs read the instructions. They are usually covered with a mesh to keep them in place during cooking. You may or may not have to leave this webbing on. The loafs that I used to make we left the webbing on until just before cutting it up, but this may not always apply, so read the cooking instructions.
Turkeys are supposed to be slow roasted in a very big roasting pan or under an aluminum tent.
Preheat the oven to 325.
Put the turkey into the bottom of the pan, lined with aluminum if you like to help make clean up easier. It’s usually a good idea to butter the turkey with margarine or real butter. Just take a cube and smear it all over the outside of the bird. Then sprinkle on some salt and pepper.
A lot of people like to put stuffing inside the turkey but this can be a health hazard as the inside temperature becomes too cool to kill bacteria due to the insulation of the stuffing. If you want to stuff a turkey, then do it during the last ˝ hour of baking! What I usually do is a trick my grandmother taught me, which is to put an apple inside the bird to add moisture and flavor.
Add a layer of water, about ˝” to the bottom of the pan. Cover with a lid or tent of aluminum foil and bake or roast 2 or 3 hours for a small loaf or breast to 5 hours for a very large turkey.
Take the bird out every two hours and bast with the juices found in the bottom. If there are no juices add some water! Keep the bird most and let is steam in that liquid! Bast it in and out. Cover and put back into the oven.
Remove the cover or foil tent for the last half hour of cooking to brown the outside of the bird.
Many breasts and full turkeys have a pop out thermometer that tells you when it’s done.
Cook it right and you’ll have a nice, moist, tender bird!