Before I went off to college, I wanted to make sure I knew how to do everything for Thanksgiving. Of course a turkey is pretty easy–it may seem intimidating, but mostly you just put it in the oven and cook until you reach the appropriate temperature.
If you’re making this gluten free, of course turkey is naturally gluten free–but be sure either not to stuff it, or just stuff it with a gluten free stuffing. Sometimes turkeys can have sauce mixes or weird basting that might have gluten, but most are just fine–just check the ingredients.
Just cook until the internal temperature barely reaches 165° to keep it juicy.
- 18-22 lb. Turkey (for Thanksgiving of course)
- Small skewer for neck flap (if stuffing)
- Bread heel (if stuffing)
- Cooking Spray
- Large disposable roaster pan (if large turkey)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Onion and garlic powder (optional)
- Celery and Carrots
For thawing a giant turkey, take it out of the freezer and put it in your fridge about a week before. When it’s thawed, wash turkey and take out innards. Look on bag to see how many pounds and how long to cook–the manufacturers are the experts. For an 18-20 lb. turkey, it often takes about 4 hours to cook.
Use broiler pan with rack for smaller birds or a large disposable pan for Thanksgiving-sized birds. Put foil in bottom of the broiler pan and spray the rack. OR for the large disposable pan, place the pan on a cookie sheet for added stability, then spray the pan and place celery and carrots under the turkey so it won’t stick.
If stuffing: Stuff the neck first–flip the bird on its breast, then hold the neck flap out while you gently spoon in the stuffing. Skewer the neck flap closed, attaching it to the main body. Then flip it on its back to stuff the large cavity. Optional: You can salt and pepper the large cavity before stuffing (or just before baking without stuffing). Gently spoon stuffing into the large cavity, not compacting it too much. Place a piece of bread in to cover the stuffing before putting the legs back in the holders.
If NOT stuffing or if you’ve already stuffed the turkey: Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray with Pam before putting in oven so it won’t dry out. Then lightly sprinkle skin with salt and pepper–and garlic and onion powder if you’re using them. Pull wingtips behind so they won’t burn–like it looks like the turkey is lounging and putting its wings behind its head while sunbathing. Haha. Place turkey breast-side up, then place the pan in the oven. [For small turkey, pour about 2 c. water in bottom of pan so the drippings won’t burn.] Cook 1 hour at 325° before covering. Place a tent of foil loosely around the turkey, not tucked around the turkey. Fold in the middle so the turkey won’t overbrown.
If not brown enough near the end, take off foil at last half hour. To check doneness, breast should be 165° and thigh should be 185°. After removing from oven, cover turkey with foil to keep heat and let turkey sit 15-30 minutes before carving so juices can sink back into meat.
For more gravy juice, in water, simmer neck and gizzard with carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp. Members Mark Chicken Base) for about an hour. Then strain and use juice for gravy (about 1 qt. + water).