22 November 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey

photo of a cooked turkey

I figured that since many of us will be hitting the stores today or tomorrow, I would share my turkey recipe with you today, instead of waiting until tomorrow. The above photo was taken just after the turkey came out of the oven. You can see, that I like to cook it inside a bag. I find that this really helps keep-in the moisture.

I have been making our turkey using this recipe for the past several years. It comes out very moist and the flavoring from the oranges, various herbs, and the onions really boost the flavor. A few years ago, I was lazy and decided not to go to the extra trouble and do all of this. Well, right off the bat, everyone noticed the difference. So, I make it a point to go the extra mile. Oh, and on a positive note, in the many years I have made this, I have never had to drive someone to the ER :)

What you will need...

  • Turkey...any size, we usually get between 20-25 lbs.
  • Turkey bag...used in the baking process
  • Turkey Pan
  • Broiler Pan
  • Meat Thermometer (Example of the kind I use, is at bottom of page)
  • Flour...1 Tbsp
  • Compound Butter...Click here for recipe
  • Oranges...2-3
  • Onions...any leftover from other recipes
  • Celery...any leftover from other recipes
  • Herbs...any leftover from other recipes

Cooking the Bird...

  • First remove the surprise packages in the neck and the body cavity
  • Rinse the bird inside and out
  • Remove the pop-up thermometer (or just leave it and don't pay any attention to it)
    • These things are set to pop at 185°. Your bird will continue to cook while resting and the final internal temperature will be around 195° or more. This will give you a turkey that is less moist than I prefer. I use my own thermometer and remove the turkey at about 160° to 170°, which will give you a nice, moist turkey that is also well-cooked (final temperature around 170° to 180°)
  • Take the Turkey bag and put the flour inside it, then shake to coat the bag
  • Work your fingers between the skin and the breast on both sides...making a cavity
  • Take the compound butter, slice it, and insert in the cavities you created
  • Once the cavities are filled, cut the oranges in half and squeeze juice over the turkey
  • Place used oranges inside the body cavity
  • Place a few slices of your compound butter inside
  • Place any extra herbs, onions, celery, etc, inside the body cavity
    • These are used ONLY as aromatics and are NOT to be eaten
    • These additions will help flavor the turkey as it bakes
  • Place turkey pan on broiler pan (I never trust those turkey pans to be able to hold the weight of a turkey)
  • Place the bird in the turkey bag, use the supplied tie to close the bag
  • Cut a few slits in the bag, and place on pan
  • Insert thermometer, through the bag, into the thickest portion of the bird
  • Place the turkey in the oven and cook according to the directions
  • When the thermometer reaches 165° - 170° remove the turkey and let rest at least 30 minutes
    • Your turkey will continue to cook and carry-over will continue to raise the temperature an additional 10 degrees
  • Remove the aromatics and discard
  • It will looked burned where the compound butter was placed, but believe me, it isn't
  • Cover with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (I'm sure you will be able to find something to do while the turkey rests)
  • You should end up with a nice, moist turkey with a great flavor

Here is a thermometer like the one I use. Very good and versatile...

photo of probe thermometer

Originally published as...How to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey


  1. Oh, you make cooking so complicated! When I cooked Thanksgiving dinner a couple years, I just got a turkey roll and stuck it in the microwave. It was very good!

  2. looks very yummy to me and sounds yummy too. Our daughter, Pam is the turkey expert now in our family.

    She cooks a great turkey and now does the bird, no pun intended, at every holiday meal.

    I always over cook and it's dry! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving Tim..you and your entire family!!

  3. Sounds very tasty! I'm wondering what a turkey roll is that Karen made. Hmmm.

  4. your turkey looks delicious. I never thought to use an orange .

  5. Karen & Gerard Zemek: I try :) Could you let us know what a turkey roll is?

    Shinade: I kinda got this job by default and have been experimenting these great many years :)
    I hope you and your family have a terrific Thanksgiving, too!

    BeadedTail: Thanks! I'm curious, too. Is it like pressed turkey?

    Ann: Thank you. I just tried the orange for fun one year and I was surprised by the great flavor it added.


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