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How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

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There is no Thanksgiving without a well-cooked turkey. If you are cooking a turkey for the first time, or need something new to experiment with your typical recipe, let 5-Minute Crafts be your guide.

Ingredients

For brining:

  • 1 cup kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 gallon vegetable stock

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple (sliced)

  • 1/2 onion (sliced)

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 cup of water

  • 4 springs of rosemary

  • 6 leaves of sage

  • Canola oil

For the gravy:

  • 1/4 cup turkey drippings (fat and juices from the roasted turkey)

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups liquid (juices from roasted turkey, broth, water)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • Total time: 9-10 hours
  • Serves: 10 to 12 people
  • Level: Easy

Thawing the turkey

  1. A few days before Thanksgiving, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. The guideline is to allow at least 24 hours per 5-6 pounds of turkey in a refrigerator. Since we have a 14-16 pound turkey, we need to thaw it for 3-4 days. Make sure the temperature is below 40° F.
  2. If you are short on time, pack the turkey in a sealable plastic bag and thaw the turkey in cold water for 6-8 hours. Continue changing the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed.

Cleaning the turkey

  1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before cleaning the turkey or wear gloves to avoid spreading any food-borne bacteria.
  2. Now keep the packaged turkey in a bucket and place it in a sink. Remove the packaging of the turkey. You might find a pop-up thermometer on the breast of the turkey and a plastic wire or hock-locks wrapped around the legs. It is advisable to not remove these.
  • A pop-up thermometer notifies you when the turkey is done inside the oven, and the turkey plastic hock-locks keep the legs in place while cooking.
  1. Remove the fat and extra meat from inside the cavity. Also, remove the neck and giblets around the head, and drain the excess liquids. If you find any extra skin or fat around the cavities, cut them away with a knife.
  2. Now place the turkey in a tub and pour distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar over the turkey. Then pour some cold water over it.
  3. After keeping the entire turkey submerged inside the mixture of water, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, add lemon juice and lemon slices to it, and set it aside for a couple of hours.
  4. Then clean the turkey with plain water to get rid of the vinegar that is on it. Wipe the kitchen surface thoroughly with vinegar. Dispose of the gloves, if you’re wearing any, and wash your hands too.

Preparing the brine

Brining is done to keep the turkey moist and flavorful. While the turkey is thawing inside the refrigerator, you can prepare the brine:

  1. In a large saucepan, mix the vegetable stock, brown sugar, salt, allspice berries, peppercorns, and candied ginger over medium-high heat.
  2. Keep stirring the mixture every now and then to dissolve the solids, and let it boil.
  3. Remove the brine mixture from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Brining the turkey:

  1. Remove the turkey from the water and squeeze it well to drain away all the water from it. Then pat it dry.
  2. Now, the night before Thanksgiving or early Thanksgiving morning, mix the brine mixture, water, and ice in a 5-gallon bucket. Keep the thawed turkey breast-down in the brine mixture. You may also want to push the bird down to immerse it fully into the brine.
  3. Cover the bucket and keep it in the refrigerator for 8 to 16 hours.
  4. Now remove the turkey from the brine and clean it inside and out with water.
  5. Discard the brine and preheat the oven to 500°F.

Dressing the turkey

Things you may need for the aromatics:

  • A microwave-safe dish

  • 1 red apple (sliced)

  • 1/2 onion (sliced)

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 cup of water

  • 4 springs of rosemary

  • 6 leaves of sage

  • Canola oil

Making the aromatics

  1. After removing the turkey from the brine, place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Then, pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
  2. Now mix the apple slices, cinnamon sticks, onions, and a cup of water in a microwave-safe dish, and heat it on high in the microwave for 5 minutes, or put it in a pan over high heat and bring it to a boil.

  3. Add the aromatics (the mixture of apple slices, cinnamon sticks, onions, and water) inside the turkey’s cavity, including the rosemary and sage too.

  4. Tuck the turkey’s wings underneath its body and coat the skin with canola oil.

Roasting the turkey

  1. Roast the turkey in the oven at 500°F for half an hour.
  2. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 350°F. The roasting time should be set to around 2 to 2.5 hours since it is a 14-16 pound turkey.
  3. If you have a pop-up turkey thermometer, it will automatically pop-up when the temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F. The popping-up indicates that your turkey is done.
  4. After it’s done, let it rest on a large dish, and cover it loosely with foil for 15 minutes.
  1. Pour the drippings of the turkey from the roasting pan into a bowl. Leave the brown particles in the pan behind. Add 1/4 cup of the drippings back into the pan.
  2. Add the all-purpose flour and stir well. Make sure you add the exact amount, because too much flour will make the gravy lumpy.
  3. Now add water or broth to the rest of the turkey drippings, until you have 2 cups of liquid in total.
  4. Pour this liquid onto the roasting pan while stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir it well until the gravy becomes smooth.
  5. Then transfer it into the serving bowl.
  6. Serve hot, drizzled over turkey and mashed potatoes.

Your turkey is ready!

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