Countdown to Turkey Day 2008: November 6

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Heather says:

If you have never roasted a turkey or chicken before, Thanksgiving is not the day for your trial run, just ask Ivy about their near Thanksgiving Massacre of ’01. Your homework for this week is to roast a chicken as practice for the big day.

Do not fear the turkey, it is just a giant chicken. For your convenience I am including directions previously posted for both after the jump. If you do not have an internal thermometer they can be found at Target for $20 – $30. Think of it this way, it’s about the same as an insurance co-pay without all the pain and suffering. (Actually I wish that was my co-pay, but that’s another story).  I like the probe / timer combos.  The probe is inserted and a thin wire connects to a unit outside the oven. Most have an alarm to signal when the desired temperature is reached (5° lower than the recommended temperature, as it continues to rise once removed from the oven.)

On to the practice chicken!

Roast Chicken

When preparing roast chicken, I first preheat the oven to 350°F. I then remove the bird from it’s packaging and give it a quick rinse. Some cooks claim this is unnecessary, but it gives me a chance to give the meat a good once over and remove any missed pin feathers. Never forget to remove the giblets! I don’t eat them, but some people swear giblet gravy is the only way to go. I’ll leave that to your discretion.

Slather the chicken with 1 – 2 TBSP of olive oil. Don’t be scared to use your hands and get all of the crevices. The fat is what keeps the bird moist and ensures basting is unnecessary. Rub the bird with your choice of spices. This example was rubbed with kosher salt and pepper. (I served the meal with baked sweet potatoes, roasted carrots and onions, and dressing.)

Place the chicken in a heavy roasting pan or large casserole dish. Make sure the pan is deep enough to contain two or three cups of liquid in addition to the bird and any vegetables. Typically, I like to add potatoes, carrots, and onions to the pan. As a final touch I typically add a few slices of onion and a sliced clove of garlic to the cavity.

The vegetables will absorb some of the juices and a lot of of flavor from the chicken. Be careful to not overload your pan.

Insert your thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh, but be careful to not allow the tip to rest on the bone, this will throw off the reading.

The bird will need to be roasted for approximately twenty minutes per pound. Check on the bird occasionally (with the light, not by opening the door), if the skin starts to brown too quickly, tent the bird with aluminum foil. Fold foil into a tent shape and place over the breast to protect it from direct heat.

Remove the bird from the oven and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Poultry needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. It is important to note that the internal temperature of the bird will rise for 5 to 10 minutes after it has been removed from the oven. Don’t despair if the temperature reads 162°F, it will reach 165°F before it is carved. Remove the bird from the tray and set on a cutting board, preferably one with a well around the edge to catch drippings.

Now compare this with:

Roasting a Turkey

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning (I especially like Chef Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic)
  • 1 rib celery, 1 carrot, 1 onion – cut into large chunks
  • roasting pan large enough for your turkey- If you don’t own one the aluminum ones are fine.
  • aluminum foil
  • cooking twine – for a nicer presentation, it’s not a necessity

Rinse the turkey under cold running water and pat dry. Take this time to remove the giblets (my opinion still hasn’t changed) and discard. Check carefully for any missed pinfeathers and pluck, burnt feathers smel nasty.

Adjust your oven racks to ensure the bird has plenty of room in its roasting pan and preheat the oven to 500°F-no, that’s not a typo- soften the stick of butter- Fine, so this recipe isn’t going to be endorsed by the American Heart Association.- With clean hands slather the bird with the butter, rub it into all the nooks and crannies, and as far under the skin as you can get. Now do the same with the Cajun seasoning, sprinkling any remaining seasoning into the cavity.

Loosely insert the onion, carrot, and celery into the cavity – do NOT pack it- and truss the bird, if you’d like. Place the turkey in your roasting pan.   Insert the probe of your thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh, being careful to not let the tip rest on the bone. Now wash your hands thoroughly. When the oven reaches 500°F place the bird in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. After the time has elapsed, reduce the heat to 350°F and tent the breast with aluminum foil.

*Novice Tip* Tenting means to loosely cover! Do not tuck the foil tightly against the meat.

For a 14-16lb bird expect 2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking time, remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer reaches approximately 160°F, the temperature will continue to rise as it rests before carving. Allow the bird to sit loosely covered for at least ten minutes before carving.


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6 thoughts on “Countdown to Turkey Day 2008: November 6”

  1. I always, always, always use a roasting bag and follow the directions that come with it ——– tenting scares me :).

    We fried a turkey one year – it was wonderful. — but the fryers are dangerous, and we left the oil to cool, only to find the dog ‘eating’ the oil later, and well needless to say that was an interesting mess to clean up later…

  2. Would you kill me if I said I roasted my first turkey last year for T-day, without instructions from Mom and it was the best turkey I’ve ever eaten? Hopefully not when I say I fear EVER trying it again b/c things are bound to go downhill after that coup. :}

    These are excellent instructions! Maybe I’ll have to try the chicken (:

  3. It is brillant to try a chicken first.

    I always use a mix of melted butter and olive oil {about 1/3 of a cup all together. After you melt the butter in the micro {in a glass measuring cup} just add the olive oil and it will cool enough to not burn you when you rub it on the bird.

    Last thing, promise, I always rub salt and the butter/oil combo in the cavity of the bird before I stuff it. I think it makes it juicier.

  4. I like to infuse olive oil with fresh herbs and then allow to cool. Rub it into every cranny of bird of choice then bake. Yummy way to get fresh herb flavor.

  5. Excellent post!!! Thanks for that =)

    I would like to know the following:

    – How long does the turkey need to thaw for in the fridge?
    – Would you recommend brining?
    – Is it true that if you roast it with the breast side down, the turkey will be even juicier?

    Thank you!


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