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How to bake a turkey and eat it too

Tired of eating microwavable turkey loaves for Thanksgiving?

Have you always wanted to bake your own turkey but were afraid to try–fearful your efforts might turn out like the severely over-cooked, dried-out, turkey jerky from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and turn up in an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos?

Worry no more.

My father-in-law just passed along directions to bake the perfect turkey. He’s very process-oriented and from past experience eating his foods, these instructions will be right on target.

Here’s how to bake your turkey:

You need to let your turkey defrost in the fridge about two (2) days prior to the day you will be cooking it. After you take it out of the fridge, you may still have to let it sit in some hot water to soften the inner cavity as that is where the neck bone, gizzards, etc., is usually placed. Also in the neck (top) portion of the turkey, there may be things in there that also need to come out.

If you plan on NOT stuffing your turkey, be sure to read the cooking time listed on the plastic covering. It all depends on the size of the turkey. Now, be sure to use tin foil to cover the wings and the legs as they will burn before your turkey is done. The tin foil can be removed about an hour or so BEFORE your turkey is done. I also spray the bottom of the pot with non-stick spray so the turkey won’t stick while baking.

You can use some butter or olive oil to coat (lightly to medium) the inside of the cavity to help with its staying moist. You can also do the same for the outside of the turkey itself. I have also made some slits on the turkey breast (about 1″ long and about 4-6 slits depending on size of the turkey) These cuts are made to the skin itself. Then place some butter in those slits so that the butter goes under the skin. This will help baste the turkey while it bakes.

When you place the turkey in the oven, you also want to cover the entire turkey with tin foil unless you have a pot with a lid. I check my turkey about every hour or so and use a baster to get any drippings from inside the pot to baste the turkey with its own juices.

After the turkey is done baking, you want to let it sit for about 15 minutes before you try to cut it. This way it finishes baking using its own heat and will cut better when it has “settled” a little while.

That’s it… enjoy!

P.S. I’m not really going to tell you how to eat your own turkey. Just remember to stop eating when you feel 80% full. It takes your mind awhile to catch up with your stomach… or is it vice versa? Well, that’s a blog post for another day. Continue reading