I can take a hint.
That’s why when Daddy mailed me the recipe for his foolproof Thanksgiving turkey, I figured the baton had been passed and I was doing the cooking this year. The last time I cooked a turkey was about twelve years ago. I found myself trying to fish a sack of hot innards out of the half-baked bird with some tongs. Rookie mistake. Birds are not my forte. I’m more of a sides and dessert kind of girl.
But time has passed, and I’m ready to give it another try. So if you’re a first-time turkey cooker, if you’re staring blankly at a big, pink frozen fowl wondering what in the hell you’re supposed to do with it, if you have in-laws and outlaws headed to your table expecting a feast, I know the pressure is on. We’ll get through this together, y’all. Because …
Today I give you the key to Thanksgiving greatness.
Daddy swears it will produce the most moist, delectable bird you’ve ever eaten. I’m taking his word for it, and you can too. Your dinner will go down in family history as being the best they’ve ever had. Seconds, thirds, and sandwiches will all be had. Your people will fight over the leftovers more vehemently than politics.
Here’s the recipe just like he sent it to me.
- 1 turkey
- 2 onions
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Clean turkey by removing neck, liver, gizzard, heart, etc. You may wash and dry the exterior and clean the cavity of any residual matter.
Remove any thermometer device if it has one.
Do not under any circumstance lace any form of stuffing or dressing in the cavity. You may use a sprig or two of fresh rosemary, three or four thin slices of lemon, salt and pepper, or other herbs of your choice.
Bid the leg ends together with kitchen string and attach wing tips to the breast with toothpicks. Alternatively, you may truss both legs and wings with string.
Line a baking pan with foil. Lightly grease it or spray it with cooking oil. Peel and cut one or two onions into thin slices and lay them flat on the oiled foil. This will keep the turkey from sticking and add flavor to the juices.
Place turkey breast-side-up on the onions.
Make a foil tent large enough to lay over the turkey breast. Lightly grease/butter the side that will come in contact with the outer breast.
Now you are ready to bake the best turkey ever!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the tented turkey in the oven. Bake for about 40-45 minutes with the tent on. Remove tent and reduce heat to 350 degrees. At this point, you may want to place the neck, liver, heart, etc. around the turkey to cook. Leave untouched and baking until the total time in the over equals 9-10 minutes per pound. For example, a 15 lb. turkey is in the oven for about 150 minutes (or 2½ hours), 45 minutes at 425 degrees and 105 minutes at 350 degrees.
Remove turkey to a platter, then strain and use the pan juices to make gravy. Add chicken stock if necessary to make more gravy.
(Note from me, Audrey: Don’t fret about making gravy … it’s so easy! Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add 1 cup broth/pan juices whisking the whole time. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. You can also add finely chopped giblets or chopped boiled egg. If you need more gravy, the recipe is easily doubled. It’s too thick? Add a little more broth until you get the consistency you like.)