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Easiest Way to Cook a Turkey for Thanksgiving - How to Cook a Turkey Any Time of Year
How Do You Cook a Turkey?
Well, to cook a turkey, first you have to catch it. Look for Ole Tom the Turkey running around the barnyard, Dad waiting with the ax and Mom with the boiling water on top of a weathered wooden table in the backyard. The ax comes down and Tom is left running around like a chicken--ha!--with his head cut off. I guess Dad throws away the useless head in the burn bucket as he waits for poor ole Tom's body to die-down--yes, literally--while Mom is patiently--are ya, Mom?--waiting to boil and pluck.
Boil and pluck, boil and pluck. I don't remember how she got that water so hot outside. I'd have to ask. But it was hot, steaming, and ready to capture the ole bird. Put it right in there (after it collapsed in the dirt, of course), let it boil for a while, and then pluck off those feathers. This must have been a fascinating time, as the experience sticks with me after all these years.
The experience certainly didn't scar me too badly, as I remember Thanksgivings with fond memories--days off school, crisp days playing baseball outside with the brothers, football on the television, and Tom the turkey waiting for us on the table in all his glory . . . with my mom's dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, hot rolls,maybe corn on the cob, and cranberry sauce . . . . Sorry, I digress.
I'm digressing quite a bit, as I'm supposed to be giving you the easiest way to cook a turkey. I thought that perhaps after that story you would feel really good about how easy this recipe is going to be. No chasing, no chopping, no boiling, and no plucking. This recipe hub is the easiest you'll ever come across.
And you can cook a turkey any time of the year. I often will cook one, serve it once, slice up sandwiches from it, make soup from the carcass, and freeze whatever I can't use for later. Turkey is a cheap, versatile, long-lasting food!
Cut off that plastic that holds the turkey legs together!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cook Time: Estimate 15 Minutes Per Pound When Cooking a Whole Turkey
Ingredients for the Easiest Turkey Ever
- Big turkey, whole
- 2-4 Tbs. butter, optional
- None! Nothing!, I told you it was the easiest!
Do you have a nifty drainer for your turkey?
Turn that turkey!
Instructions for Easy Turkey
- Really, all the instructions you need are on the packaging of the turkey you buy. But I'll beat a dead horse, er, turkey, to reiterate just how easy it can be to a cook a turkey
- Thaw the thing in the refrigerator for days--at least three days, and up to a week is okay. Make sure your frozen turkey is thawed.
- Cooking your turkey for approximately 15 minutes per pound is just about right. I cooked a turkey of about 12 pounds at 325 for 3 hours. It was pretty darn good!
- The instructions on packaging generally say to put the turkey breast up, but I like to first like to put the backside up to brown that side. Halfway through, I take it out and turn it over to make sure the breast up side gets nice and browned, too.
- Yeah, it's that easy. Oh my, I almost forgot a very important step, probably because I often forget it. After your turkey is thawed, feel inside the carcass, as that is where extra parts are stored. Pull out packages of liver and hearts that you can cook and add into your dressing or stuffing. You might also find an unattractive neck as well as a package of gravy mix. Don't throw that stuff away. Try to impress your friends and relatives; make some dressing and gravy!
- Optional: Sure, you can baste the turkey with some melted butter. This might help keep in the heat and prevent the turkey from getting too done. You could also add spices or inject a marinade, but that is up to you, as I'm trying to make the baking experience as easy as possible. My turkey was good without added butter OR spices!
Turkey offers a lot of different vitamins and minerals, the most notable being iron and B vitamins. Turkey has no carbohydrates but a ton of protein, at nearly 30 grams for just one piece.
Turkey breast without the skin is the piece lowest in calories and fat, at about 160 calories and 4 grams of fat. Add about 30 calories for the skin.
Dark meat is higher in fat and calories but still packs the nutritive value. A turkey leg has about 200 calories and 11 grams of fat. Not too bad, considering that is even with the skin.
For more specifics, check out Turkey for the Holidays.
What do you think of this recipe?
What to do with the Giblets and Gravy Packets
Sure you could add other ingredients, but that defeats the purpose of this hub, which is giving you a recipe for the easiest way to make a turkey--ever!
Now what about the extra ingredients you pulled out of the naked turkey? I was going to include a photo, but the extra stuff just looked kind of yucky, so I didn't. Well, it all looks worse than it tastes. A gravy packet comes with many turkeys. It tells you just how to mix the packet contents with the turkey drippings--or juices--and heat it up until thickened. Yummy. Put that over some creamy mashed potatoes for a flavor that's incredible.
What about that wobbly neck and sack of "parts"? Sometimes I "pre-cook" the parts as I don't follow my own advice and body search that turkey well enough. In my most recent effort, I only pulled stuff out from one end. Oh, well, they will still work.
I cook up the giblets (aka "parts") and the neck. I pull off as much meat as I can from the neck, and, along with chopped giblets, add it to stuffing from a box recipe. Yummy!
Now, that wasn't too hard was it? Just do it. Get yourself a turkey and bake it!
The country of Turkey: any relation?
Was the Country of Turkey Named After the Bird?
While the country of Turkey appears to be named after the Turks, the people who settled there, its name may have little to do with the bird. Who named the turkey? I can't find a definitive source.
Theories include "turkey" coming about because of its relation to a turkey fowl or because of it sounding like a word in another language. One supposition claims that the turkey migrated to Europe through the country of Turkey. Who knows?
I know, I know--this is all pretty vague, but I'm not here for a history lesson. I'm here to show you how easy it is to cook a turkey.
If you find definitive answers about how the turkey got its name, let me know, would ya?