Humorous instructions to guide you through this intimidating process.
|Up until this point in your life, there is a good chance you have been gorging yourself on your mother's or your wife's or a soup kitchen's Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys and have never for one iota of a second entertained the thought of actually taking the step into adulthood and attempted to make one for yourself and some dinner guests.
These instructions will guide intellectually challenged persons through the process that they would normally be afraid to attempt. I know you might be intimidated and you may be thinking this will be way too complicated, but I will keep this incredibly simple. So simple in fact, that you will be able to complete this project blindfolded, which, incidentally, I do not condone or recommend. That's just a figure of speech.
The biggest, most well- kept secret in the cooking world is this: A turkey is one of the simplest things you will ever make, I kid you not.
It takes about four minutes to prepare it and put in a roasting pan. Then it stays in the oven for three or four hours and then it's done and you take it out and eat it. What could be simpler? Okay yes, Mcdonald's IS simpler. I knew you were going to say that. But no one ever went into a glorious turkey coma (that's the sleepy feeling you get from eating turkey due to a chemical in your brain that is released when you eat it) from a Big Mac. That's a grease coma which stems from hamburger fat coagulating around your heart until you can barely move and not really my point here.
Now here is what you do. Did I mention how unbelievably simple this is? Okay, I did, twice. But it's like a great mystery of the universe. Our mothers always looked so worn out and exhausted after putting on this big production of a meal every Thanksgiving. I am here to tell you it is all a ruse.
First you have to get a turkey. No surprise there.I don't know a single soul that gets a fresh one except Martha Stewart . So pretend there are no freshly killed turkeys anywhere and purchase a frozen one at the supermarket. Ten pounds is good. That's a nice medium size bird that will feed seven or eight people. While you are at the supermarket, buy some spices like thyme, marjoram, parsley and chives. Those are the standard turkey spices, besides salt and pepper but if you see something exotic, feel free to use it. It's your turkey. An onion and a couple cans of chicken broth will also be needed. I know you are questioning the chicken broth in your mind. "Chicken broth? I thought we were making turkey!?" There is no such thing as turkey broth. You have to get chicken.
Okay, so you have the turkey, the spices, an onion and the broth. You are almost done. I'm not kidding. It will be helpful to also purchase some " poultry pins" (or are they called turkey pins? I can't remember, sorry). These are sharp pins that you stab into the bird to hold it's legs nice and close to it's body while it is roasting. The pins also come with the saddest, most pathetic piece of string that you have ever seen in your life. This "string" is supposed to be tied around the legs so they don't stick out all over the place during cooking. It's thinner than everyday sewing thread so don't be alarmed when it breaks as you tie it around the turkey's legs. And trust me, this will happen. Try to tie it back together and use it. Or just be smart and buy butcher's string or household string to begin with. I don't think it will catch on fire in the oven. Keep an eye on it just in case.
Now, let's say you have everything assembled and you have your roasting pan greased and everything is good to go. Take the turkey out of the wrapper. Incidentally, the turkey has been thawing in your fridge for the last three days because you aren't Martha Stewart and as we have previously mentioned, you don't have a freshly killed one. Yes, three days, I am not kidding. That is really how long it takes. On day three you will cook it and it will be fine.
At this point you should have the thawed turkey in your hands looking at it and thinking, "Now what?" Well now you are going to take it to the sink, reach inside of it and remove the neck and hopefully a little bag that has something inside of it called "giblets." Throw both of these things away unless you live in a place where giblets is a much sought after dish. When I cooked my last turkey, the giblets were "hiding" and I didn't find them until it was time to carve the turkey and I cut into them with the electric knife and thought, "What the heck is THAT?" So try to remove that prior to cooking.
Turn on the tap and rinse the inside of the turkey, and the outside too because you don't know where that turkey has been. Pat it dry with some paper towel and put it in your previously lightly greased roasting pan. That nice non-stick pan spray works well. Push the poultry/ turkey pins into the legs of the bird so that they puncture the body and don't flop around. Attempt to tie the very inadequate wee piece of string around both legs to keep them in place. When it breaks, re-tie it. Then again, and again. Then throw that string in the garbage and get some good string and tie the legs with that.
Cut up the onion and throw that in the pan. Sprinkle your seasonings, exotic or otherwise, and the salt and pepper over the turkey. Add some of the chicken broth to the bottom of the pan along with some butter for basting later (we'll get to the “basting”, don't panic!) and put it in the preheated oven ( that's 325 degrees) without putting the lid on.
Now go wash your hands with some antibacterial soap and clean your counters and sink really well with disinfectant. I am not kidding here. Raw poultry germs are extremely conducive to food poisoning. You may now set the kitchen timer for an hour. Come back to the turkey in one hour, spoon some of the juices in the pan over the turkey ( this is called basting) and then cover the pan with the lid, return it to the oven, and come back every half hour to baste it again.
This should take approximately three and a half hours. The turkey will be a beautiful dark brown color after this time (if you did everything right) and if you thought to insert a meat thermometer into it during cooking, it will register at least 185 degrees. Or you could just cut into it to see if it's fully cooked or not.
The bottom line: If you can read, you can cook.