Having been raised in the land of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast here in New England, I know firsthand that we take our selection of a Thanksgiving turkey very seriously. It is that time of year again when the markets and supermarkets stock turkeys of all brands and varieties making selection a daunting task. I don’t have room in a small post to list everything there is to know about selecting, thawing and preparing a turkey dinner, but I’ll try to break down the process into several smaller writings.
To those unfamiliar with the process of selecting and handling poultry, especially large American bred turkeys that can weigh over 24 pounds, I will simply give you this link to the United States Department of Agricultures’ fact sheets on the safe handling of turkey and poultry products:
Here’s my familys recipe for roast turkey which is the way it was done by my great-aunt Julie.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreheit.
15 – 16 lb. thawed turkey
Aunt Julies’ stuffing (or of your choice to fill cavity of turkey)
1 1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons sage (dried is fine)
1 Tablespoon thyme (dried o.k.)
1 Tablespoon rosemary (dried o.k.)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can chicken broth (16 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water
Remove giblet packet and neck from inside of cavity of turkey. Sometimes the neck is loose inside the neck cavity. Thoroughly wash turkey with cold water and place on counter on a platter and dry it completely with clean cloth or paper towels. Do not let the raw turkey touch surfaces of counter. Wash up behind yourself and periodically wash your hands with hot soapy water.
Stuff the turkey with stuffing mixture and place on raised roasting rack in a deep sided large roasting pan. Baste the turkey with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle liberally with dried herbs, salt and pepper. Pour broth and water into the bottom of the pan and cover with heavy duty aluminum foil, tenting slightly in the middle away from the top of turkey. Place the stuffed turkey in the oven on the lowest oven rack and roast for 5 1/2 – 6 hours. About 40 minute before roasting is complete, uncover the turkey so that it may brown. Cook for additional 40 minutes until turkey is golden. Remove turkey from oven and check internal temperature with meat thermometer. The thermometer should read 165 degrees when place in the thickest part of the thigh and, also, it should measure 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the breast. Stuffing, likewise should be thoroughly done at 165 degrees. Juices at leg joint should run clear. Let stand for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.
Serves 12 with leftovers
My hopes are that you have a very happy Thanksgiving season.
Aunt Julie’s Stuffing recipe follows in my next post.
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