Los Angeles, Ca Turkey is the main course in a traditional Thanksgiving feast and despite the prevalence there are still millions who have never cooked one. There are a few things to know, one, the greatest challenge is the size and finding the right equipment for before, during and after cooking it, two, having the right ingredients and three, having enough time.
Buy a turkey that is big enough for everyone and if you don’t trust the pound to pound and a half per person rule, cheat and buy an extra breast (you can even cook it a day ahead) to make sure that you have enough for all of your guests. If you can splurge buy a turkey that has been pre-brined, I love brining as much as the next person, but when you are trying to cook a ton of food messing with a huge bucket of dirty brine water isn’t a great idea. Stuff it with carrots, onions, celery, sage, thyme, garlic and an orange (poke holes in it so it releases its juices into the cavity of the bird). Top the bird with butter, salt and pepper.
A 16-18 pound turkey (serves 16) should cook between 3 ½ to 4 hours on 350 degrees F to reach the safe temperature of 180 degrees (don’t be a hero, use a thermometer) and if you want a little extra help buy a plastic one time use turkey thermometers that you insert in the breast of the turkey. They pop out when the turkey reaches the correct temperature making cooking a breeze.
Next buy a bag to roast your turkey in. The bag will leave your turkey moist and delicious!
Lastly think ahead and plan for leftover and buy the appropriate containers and huge lawn bags. There is nothing worse than looking at a giant turkey and having nothing to store it in and small trash bags that it won’t fit in. Have a great Thanksgiving.
For brine, in container large enough to submerge turkey, combine water, salt, sugar, orange, and 1 bunch thyme. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove neck and gizzards from turkey. Rinse turkey in cold water. Submerge turkey in brine. Cover; chill 12 to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Rinse turkey in cold water; pat dry. Place carrots, celery, onion, and 1 bunch thyme in neck and body cavities. Skewer neck skin to back. Tuck drumstick ends under band of skin across tail, if available. If there is no band of skin, tie drumsticks securely to tail with 100 percent cotton kitchen string. Twist wing tips under back. Season turkey with salt and pepper.
Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Rub butter over skin. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle (thermometer should not touch bone). Pour chicken stock into bottom of roasting pan.
Roast 2-1/2 hours, spooning juices over turkey every half hour. Pour white wine over turkey and roast 10 minutes more.
Baste the turkey every 15-30 minutes, until turkey is done (175°F in the thigh). Remove turkey from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Transfer turkey to cutting board for carving. Serve.
2 gallons water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 (12-14 pound) turkey
2 large carrots, cut in thirds
1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
Salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine