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How to Cook Roast Turkey or Chicken - Keep This Recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner

Updated on November 19, 2016
Gloriousconfusion profile image

Before I became a London solicitor, I used to help in our family restaurant. I love good food, enjoy creative cooking and hate food waste,

It's Easy to Roast a Chicken or Turkey for Your Thanksgiving Dinner

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I also tell you below how to cook the accompanying stuffing and vegetables

Imagine How This Will Taste:

Don't you just love a roast chicken or turkey dinner, with beautifully browned, crispy skin, crispy roast potatoes and parsnips, stuffing maybe, and lots of different vegetables, topped with aromatic gravy, the meat slightly moist, well-cooked, and not too dry, the food hot and aromatic when it is put in front of you?

.........And I'm going to show you how to make it.

Ingredients For Roast Turkey or Chicken Dinner

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Ingredients For Roast Turkey or Chicken Dinner

Assemble the Ingredients before you start

Ingredients (Method 1):

NB: Precise amounts are not particularly important for this recipe

- 1 Turkey or Chicken

- 1 small onion for every 2 people or 1 large onion for every 4 people

- Garlic cloves - 2 or 3 for a chicken, 4 to 8 for a turkey

Seasoning:

- Olive oil (or other cooking oil)

- Salt and Pepper

- Jerk Seasoning *

- 2 sprigs of Rosemary for a chicken, 4 or more for a turkey

- Lemon juice (lemon dressing in a bottle is fine)

Optional:

- Mixed spice (in case you haven't got any Jerk Seasoning)

- mixed herbs

*Jerk seasoning is a readily-available spicy West Indian seasoning)

Ingredients for Roast Turkey or Chicken - Method 2

Same as above, except add

3-4 slices of streaky bacon for Chicken or

6 -8 slices of streaky bacon for Turkey

Equipment for Cooking Roast Turkey or Chicken

The main utensil for your Thanksgiving dinner is a large oven pan


Equipment for Cooking

Roast Turkey or Chicken:

- Baking Pan large enough for the bird

- Additional Baking Pan if necessary

- Chopping Board

- Sharp kitchen knife

- Baster

I use a standard 14-inch pan for a chicken or a turkey up to 15 lbs

If you are cooking turkey for the masses, you would need the larger size, but do measure your oven first, to make sure the pan will fit. I once had to take my turkey round to someone else's house to cook, because it wouldn't fit in my somewhat modest oven.

You might find it best to buy the standard size - you could always borrow a larger pan for the one or two occasions when you need it (unless your prospective lender is intending to cook a festive turkey on the same day as you!)

OvenStuff Non-Stick Lasagna Pan
OvenStuff Non-Stick Lasagna Pan

Also suitable for a large turkey

 

Important: Do not Cook Poultry Which is Still Partly Frozen

This could cause food poisoning, as the outside will be cooked but the inside might be very undercooked and cause Salmonella poisoning. It takes between 1 and 3 days to defrost a turkey properly, depending on its size.

Here's a link to a Wikihow article which gives all the information you need about defrosting: 3 Ways to Defrost a Turkey .

Cook the Turkey or Chicken for 20 Minutes per lb. Plus an Additional 20 Minutes

It is very important to check the weight of your bird and calculate the amount of cooking time accurately, to ensure it is not undercooked (dangerous to health) or overcooked (too dry and possibly burnt skin and shrinkage)

Gas Mark 5 or 450 degrees

Or you can cook it for a little longer on a lower heat, which ensures the bird is cooked thoroughly whilst remaining moist

Method 1 for Cooking Roast Turkey or Chicken:

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Method 1 of 2 Methods for Cooking Roast Turkey or Chicken

Preparation:

- Remove everything within the body cavity - sometimes butchers leave the neck or gizzard in there - people have been known to cook a bird with the innards still in a plastic bag inside it (and I speak about someone not far from home!). This is a chance to check that a frozen bird is fully unfrozen. If it is still a bit icy, sit it in a bowl of hot water until the ice has melted.

- Remove any feathers or roots of feathers and any hair either manually or by singeing the bird over a flame - don't burn the skin, just burn off the bits and pieces.

- Wash the bird in the sink, running water through it.

- Tear off a piece of silver tinfoil large enough to cover the base of the roasting tin and the whole of the chicken or turkey (alternatively, you don't need to cover the base of the tin and can just cover over the bird itself after seasoning it)

- Place the bird in the foil-covered baking tray, with the flat underside at the bottom and breast facing upwards.

Season the exposed part of the bird as follows (you will do the rest later):

- Crush the garlic cloves to release the oils, rub the skin with the crushed cloves and put the cloves on the breast, and other parts of the body;

- Sprinkle it with lemon juice, then olive oil, then add Jerk seasoning or any other seasoning of your choice;

- Use plenty of salt, as this helps to make the skin crispy (you can use less salt for health reasons);

- Lay the rosemary on top, so that it doesn't slip down.

- Put an onion poking out of the body cavity (so that it still cooks and browns)

Then:

- Tie or skewer the legs together (optional - I don't normally bother with this)

- Loosely cover the bird with silver foil (to prevent it burning, whilst enabling the steam to circulate)

- Put it in the oven on gas Mark 5 for about 30 Minutes

- Take it out of the oven, turn it over and season the underside of the bird as above, then wrap it back in foil and let it cook for a further 30 minutes

-Then turn the bird over so that it is again breast side up and baste it (that means take the meat juices and fat from the bottom of the dish and pour or squirt them over the whole of the exposed part of the bird) - use a baster or a serving spoon to do this

- If the bird is small (3lbs.), remove the foil at this stage, and continue cook ing for 20 - 30 minutes. It should be crispy and brown on the outside, and the meat should come away from the bone easily. If there is any blood showing when you separate the leg from the body, then it is not cooked sufficiently, and should go back in the oven for about 15 minutes.

- For a bigger bird, leave the silver foil on the bird, and continue cooking in accordance with your calculations - remember, 20 minutes per lb. plus an additional 20 minutes at the end. Just remove the foil and baste it before returning it to the oven for the last 30 - 40 minutes .

When cooking is finished:

- Tip the bird up to let the juices run into the roasting pan (to use as gravy), and then place the turkey or chicken on the board or plate where you will be carving it, and let it stand for a few minutes.

Whilst it is standing, remove the roast potatoes and roast onion and put them in a warmed dish. Then pour off all the surplus fat into a bowl, and leave the juice and bits and pieces to make the gravy (see below)

Method 2 for Cooking Roast Turkey or Chicken

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Method 2 for Cooking Roast Turkey or Chicken

Flavoured with bacon

- Copy all the stages as for Method 1, but instead of using rosemary, use streaky bacon rashers - The other seasoning is optional as the bacon gives it a distinctive flavouring of its own (I personally do like strong seasoning, so I do add the other seasoning)

- Lay the bacon rashers on the breast and legs. When you turn the bird over to cook the underside, you could lay the bacon on that part too, or just leave it on the breast.

How to Make Stuffing:

Even if you don't usually have stuffing, it's nice to have it occasionally. It's very easy to make, and only takes 5 minutes.

Ingredients Needed for Stuffing

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Stuffing - Ingredients:

- Quarter to one half of a packet of Sage and Onion Stuffing for 2 - 4 people (use a whole packet for turkey)

- 1 Small onion (optional)

- 1 Egg (optional) (use 2 if using a whole packet of stuffing)

-1 or 2 slices of bread (white or brown) (optional)

- Butter or Olive Oil (other cooking oils would do as well)

- salt and pepper to taste

NB: Precise amounts are not particularly important for this recipe, so you can add more or less or vary the ingredients

Method for Making Stuffing -

Method for making Stuffing

Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes

- Put the stuffing in a small oven-proof bowl - even a silver foil one will do

- Crumble the bread and add to the mixture

- Add boiling water

- Add the egg

- Add any optional herbs or spices

- mix the whole lot and smoot out the top - the consistency should be soft but not runny

- let it stand for a few minutes

- put a few blobs of butter or a little olive oil on the surface

- bake in oven Mark 6 for half an hour or until browned - if you are short of oven space, you can put it on the floor of the oven, but for a longer time. It should be soft with a slightly crispy top when ready.

Don't Stuff the Main Cavity of the Bird - This May Result in the Chicken or Turkey Being Undercooked and Therefore Unsafe to Eat

Just stuff the neck cavity, if you want to, and cook the rest of the stuffing separately in a bowl in the oven. Or you can leave the bird unstuffed, and put it all in the oven (that's what I do)

How to Cook Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips to Accompany your Turkey or Chicken Dinner

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How to Cook Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips to Accompany your Turkey or Chicken Dinner

Brown and Crispy Potatoes and Parsnips

Preparation:

- Peel 1 large potato per person and one extra potato for luck

- Peel the parsnips - one large one will do for 3 people

- Cut the vegetables into golf-ball size pieces (precise size and shape not crucial)

- Cover them with cold water in a saucepan until needed (to prevent the raw vegetables turning brown)

- One hour before the meal is ready to be served, boil up the water and continue to boil for 5 - 10 minutes (this is called par-boiling). You can cook any other vegetables such as carrots at the same time, or afterwards, in the same water.

- Place as many as you can (without piling them on top of each other) round the meat and, if necessary, place the rest in a separate baking tray. They have a better flavour if cooked with the meat and garlic.

- sprinkle them with salt (to make them crispy)

- Pour a very small amount of olive or other cooking oil over them or brush them with oil (this might be the fat from the bird itself) - don't let them stand in a lake of oil, as this will make them soggy

- Cook them for about 45 minutes, turning them over and basting once or twice during this period.

- Take them out of the oven when you take the bird out,

Roast Potatoes

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But if the potatoes are not crispy and brown enough at that stage, baste them again, turn up the gas to its highest point, and cook for a further 10 minutes whilst you are making the gravy and carving the bird.

- Remove them from the oven and place them in a warm serving bowl and keep them hot until you are serving up.

Cook the Vegetables for your Dinner

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How to Cook the Vegetables for your Dinner

Preparation: Wash the vegetables and cut to the size you like.

Seasoning:

Sprinkle a small amount of salt in the water. Some people don't cook with salt, for health reasons, and leave people to add their own when the food is on their plate.

Cooking:

Green vegetables take about 15 minutes to cook in boiling water. This includes cabbage, Brussel sprouts, runner beans, cauliflower, broccoli leeks and kale. The vegetables should be placed in a saucepan with water already boiling. Once cooked, they should be removed from the water, and placed in a warm serving dish. They can stand in hot water for a few minutes to keep hot, but if you keep them standing in the water for long, they get soggy and overcooked.

Spinach and frozen peas only need about 5 minutes to cook.

Swede needs to be cut up into marble-sized pieces, and cooked for 20 - 25 minutes, then drain them and mash with a blob of butter, and then put in a warm dish.

Carrots, turnips, potatoes and parsnips need to be boiled in water for about 20 minutes (assuming you are not roasting them)..

All these vegetables can be steamed over boiling water in a steamer instead of actually placing them in boiling water - this is supposed to be healthier, as the vitamins don't leach into the water so readily as boiled vegetables.

When you drain the vegetables, don't throw away the vegetable water - use it to make the gravy, or to make soup with the meat bones

My Zazzle designs with a foodie theme - they would make a delightful Present:

Shopping Bag - "I Love Yummy Home Cooking" Cake

by GloriousConfusion

The wording can be personalized or even removed by you, and you can get the same design on a T-Shirt, a mug, a button, a bumper sticker, or even a card

What do You Do With Left-Over Turkey?

I would use turkey leftovers in a variety of ways, and have even make a web page about this, called Nine Thrifty ways to Use Turkey or Chicken Leftovers"

So would you re-cook meat?

Would you use meat which has been re-cooked?

See results

My Guestbook for Your Comments - It's so nice to hear from people all round the world........ I love to get feedback (no pun intended)

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    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 22 months ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks - I only just remembered in time to remind people about this the day before Thanksgiving. Handy at Christmas time too.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 22 months ago from Templeton, CA

      What a handy reference for holiday dinners. Seems I'm always going online to refresh my memory when it's time to cook a turkey. I'll be bookmarking this and pinning it.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hope you enjoyed it and Happy Thanksgiving Day to all who celebrate it.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      I was thinking of fried chicken for supper tonight and you are encouraging me. Your bird looks delicious.

    • Joanna14 profile image

      Christine Hulme 2 years ago from SE Kent, England

      Thanks for spelling it out so clearly looks delicious! I make turkey soup, turkey pie etc. with left-over meat after Christmas if we have some left!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Both your turkey and chicken look delicious. I always stuff my turkey. My husband and I have this thing going where one turkey he stuffs and then another time I make mine. We argue over who's stuffing is the best :)

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Excellent lens. I always wanted to find a complete dinner Turkey recipe but not from the gurus but rather from a real housewife. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 4 years ago from Maryland

      I love to do my chickens in the crockpot, but I do roast my turkey...yours looks delicious! :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Your Roast Turkey or Chicken sounds delicious. We don't do much to ours but seasonings on top and cook slow and low

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 4 years ago

      This looks so yummy! I remember being first married and trying to roast a chicken -- it looked great on the outside but was still frozen in the center! Thermometers are great inventions! LOL

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I am SO ready for a roast turkey dinner! Looks like you've covered the bases for us all. As for leftovers, that's the best part! (Well, almost.)

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 6 years ago

      A lovely meal start to finish. I thought it great to see big sprigs of fresh herbs on your ready to bake chicken...bet it is delish! Mmm! for the roasted veggies too.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 6 years ago from Burbank, CA

      I am so excited for Thanksgiving this year! My sister is coming down to visit and I am making a turkey. With Stuffing inside. Yum Yum! Thanks for the inspiration.