Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am so glad that Lincoln deemed this day important enough to make it a reflective holiday for we Americans who are so blessed. Now let’s get cooking.
Since your closets are (hopefully – if you’ve been following my advice) already cleaned and organized, we can move on to everyone’s favorite pastime. Food. I am no great cook; just ask my three sons. (My husband is more gracious about my cooking, bless him.)
We have to eat gluten free at my house and I am always trying to substitute gluten free flour for wheat in my favorite baking recipes and trying to find the balance is just that. Trying. Extremely trying. BUT I do have a fail-safe turkey recipe from my husband that just amazes every time and since being organized also means being efficient, well my friends, you have found the right place.
You will need a brown paper grocery bag that’s probably right now tucked in the space between your fridge and counter area. You will also need a big turkey, olive oil, pepper and thyme (or whatever spices you choose to use.) Just don’t use salt; it has a tendency to dry out the bird. Then find your roasting pan, and get a spray bottle filled with water. That’s all. Really. Yes, I was doubtful the first time too, but ten Thanksgivings later, this is still one of my favorite recipes to share and to use.
This part of the prep will take two people – one to oil that big (thawed, don’t forget) turkey up with oil and pepper, etc, and the other person to hold the bag open wide enough to get the bird inside of it. Then put the cumbersome and heavy bag on the roast rack in the pan and staple it shut in several places. Spray the outside of the bag with the spray bottle of water and cook according to turkey instructions; fifteen minutes per pound in a 325* oven. (So an 8-12 pound turkey would take 3-4 hours give or take oven conditions.) Don’t forget to let the bird rest for 30 minutes on the counter before slicing it to let the juices reabsorb into the meat. After all that trouble, you do not want your turkey to be dry! (That does conjure up images of Christmas Vacation, does it not?)
While it is cooking, remember to spray the bag every 30 minutes or so all around it. Don’t let the bag touch the sides of the oven; it can smolder. BUT it will not catch fire in the oven until what temperature Ray Bradbury fans? That’s right. 451*.
After the appointed hours, you may puncture the bag with a meat thermometer to make sure that the temperature is 165* before you remove the turkey and it’s pan, rest it, then cut a hole in the bottom corner of said bag to let the juices run out into the roasting pan. Remove the turkey to another dish and make your gravy with the drippings from the bag. That’s it! No basting, no oven clean up from spattering bird grease. This recipe also works beautifully with duck and goose, since those are naturally fatter birds. Keep that fat in the bag where it belongs; not on the sides of your oven!
I’m no gourmet cook as I’ve said, but I am efficient and this is the epitome of efficient and excellent. You may never go back to the basting method again. Although…
I also would recommend a Greenberg smoked turkey to eat or send to family as a gift this Christmas. I grew up on these magnificent tasting, shockingly quick and easy to prepare holiday staples. They come to your front door; you put it in the fridge or freezer, and on game day (haha, game) remove from the bag and serve at room temperature. (This is also wonderful in that it frees up your oven space for all your beautiful side dishes you will be serving.) The carcass makes a most wonderful base for soups for winter. Look them up at gobblegobble.com. They are from Tyler, TX and several years ago, they even made Oprah’s top ten list. The Greenberg turkey is even MORE efficient than the one in the bag, but of course, they taste quite different.
I hope you all have a most enjoyable, peaceful Thanksgiving season. And get those Christmas cards ready to send, will you please?