Making a Moist Delicious Turkey
I was never a fan of turkey. I'd eat it only if I had gravy over it and mashed potatoes near it. I've had deep fried turkey, but, for me, it wasn't good enough. I know there are recipes which use alcohol, but I would prefer not. I decided to change the traditional way of serving turkey to present a more moist dish to my family. I've had a couple of friends who said they didn't like turkey at all. When they tasted my turkey, they went back for seconds.
This recipe uses quite a bit of butter (for those with high cholesterol). The cooking process is a slow cook 3-4 hours (depending on size of turkey). The cooking temperature is 300. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands, utensils and counter after handling raw meat.
Shopping and Utensil List
- Mrs Dash Original
- Mc Cormick's Nature's Seasonings (herbs)
- Mc Cormick's Roasting Rub (french herbs)
- Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (for browning)
- Garlic Powder
- 1 can non-stick cooking spray
- 1 box of Swanson's Chicken Broth
- Butter packaged in a tub (I use "Can't Believe It's Butter Olive Oil brand)
- Small bottle of orange juice (you will only be using a half cup)
- 1 large sweet onion (if large turkey get 2)
- 1 large Granny Smith apple (if large turkey get 2)
- 1 large aluminum turkey size pan
- 1 medium sized pan (will be used for serving turkey)
- Aluminum foil
- Baster, preferably with an optional injection needle tip (as pictured)
- cooling rack (best size to fit into your turkey pan)
- meat thermometer (unless plastic thermometer is already inserted in turkey)
- cookie sheet (optional - used to stabilize pan and prevent dripping on oven floor)
Cleaning the Turkey
Defrosting a turkey takes time. It's best to defrost turkey by placing it on the lowest rack in the frig or submerging the entire turkey in cold water. You should not defrost turkey (or any other kind of meat) by leaving it on the counter. Why? Smaller portions of the turkey can defrost faster than larger portions. The portions which defrost first can go bad waiting for the larger portions to defrost. Defrosting in the frig or submerged in cold water allows the entire turkey to remain cold, but not cold enough to freeze.
When the turkey defrosted, pull the giblets package out of the rear of the turkey. Look inside to make sure no internal organs are left. Go through the front of the turkey and pull out the neck package. If the legs are already held together, leave it. If not, use a string to tie the legs to prevent them from flapping open.
Rinse the inside and outside of the turkey in cold water.
Turkey Prep Steps
- Place the top rack of your oven in the middle or lower middle...which ever level allows enough head room for the size turkey you are cooking. Do not place turkey on the bottom level of your oven.
- Turn oven on 300 and let it pre-heat.
- Place rack in pan and spray both with non-stick cooking spray.
- Chop apple and sweet onion into small pieces (be sure to remove stem and seeds).
- Get a small bowl and place all of your dry spices and herbs into the bowl. I usually add three dashes from each bottle.
- Place turkey on top of rack in pan and vent both sides of the breast by poking holes in meat with fork or knife.
- Sprinkle some of the dry spices inside of the turkey
- Stuff turkey with apple and sweet onion from the back and in the neck area.
- Pour a cup of soup into the rear of the turkey.
- Pour a half cup of orange juice into the rear of the turkey (don't worry if the juices run out of the cavity).
- Pat dry turkey skin with paper towel.
- Use your hand to massage butter into skin on the breasts, legs, wings. Do not worry about the back.
- Sparsely, sprinkle Ken's dressing over skin.
- Sprinkle dry spices and herbs onto the skin and rub it in.
- Cover entire turkey and pan with foil. Have extra foil available in case you need to replace used foil during basting intervals
- Place pan on cookie sheet (optional)
- After every hour, pull your turkey from the oven (do not remove), open the foil (be careful of the hot steam), and use the baster to moisturize your turkey with the drippings from the bottom of the pan. You can change the intervals at which you baste, it doesn't have to be after every hour, but the turkey should be based at least 4 times during the cooking process to keep it moist
- If you have a baster with a removable needle, you can inject the drippings directly into the breasts of the turkey. Be careful. The needle has to be in the meat and should be injected slowly as a fast injection may cause the liquid to squirt back out and possibly burn you.
- Cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey. However remember this is a slow cook. I have put my turkey in the oven at 1 a.m., go to bed and when I get up it's done (of course there's no basting while I'm sleep).
- When your turkey is just about ready (check with thermometer) take foil off and let turkey brown.
Is It Done Yet?
- If a plastic thermometer was already implanted into your turkey, you will know when your turkey is done when the little red nozzle pops up.
- Using an electric thermometer, place the point inside the deepest part of the breast. If it reads "done," it's ready.
- You can also tell when a turkey is finished when the meat on the legs start to pull away from the bone.
- When it's done, remove the foil from on top of the turkey, baste the skin and place it back in the oven for 20-30 minutes to allow the skin to brown.
Retaining the Moisture
Traditionally, the turkey is cooked, presented whole to the dinner and waits to be carved which is why the meat dries out. As soon as the turkey is ready, get your second foil pan or other serving pan. Begin to slice the turkey placing the pieces in the second pan. Throw away the apples, onions and bones as you continue to carve the entire turkey. Don't cut the meat away from the wings and the legs. Those parts can be placed directly in the serving pan. Once you have removed all the meat, removed the rack, take a vented spoon and remove any additional bones. Pour all of the liquid into the serving dish on top of the sliced meat. Cover with foil.
As the meat sits, it will soak up additional flavoring and remain moist.
Keeping It Fresh
After everyone has eaten and it's time to put away the leftovers, leave the turkey in the liquid and place in the frig. Please remember, turkey should not be left out longer than 2 hours at room temperature. You can leave it in the frig for up to 3 - 4 days. You can freeze it if you want to keep it longer. I suggest getting some containers for individual serving size if you have the room.
Update Posted 11/26/11
I had the most stubborn turkey this year. It was taking forever to cook. This particular turkey came with a plastic thermometer. So when it popped, I took the turkey out of the oven (after browning it). I could see the meat on the legs had pulled away from the bone. All indications the turkey was done.
Placing the turkey on a large plate, Then I cleaned all of the debris (apples and onions) from the cooking pan. I just wanted the liquid. I began to carve the turkey. The meat was hard to remove from the bone. This indicated the meat, closer to the bone, was not fully cooked. I continued to slice the turkey removing all the bones, apples and onions, and placed the sliced meat (which looked good and juicy) into the liquid in the cooking tray. After slicing, I always go over the turkey with my hands pulling off any meat left behind.
When I was done, I placed the cooking pan back in the over on the lowest shelf and let the turkey slices and pieces cook in the drippings for 30 minutes. I am so glad I carve my turkeys before it's time to eat. It would have been a disaster to find out the turkey was not done when everyone was ready to eat.