Saturday, November 19, 2016

Practically Fool-Proof Turkey

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, I thought I’d share my turkey recipe.  I’ve had a few misadventures when it comes to cooking turkeys, but this recipe is practically fool-proof.  It’s also incredibly delicious!

Thanksgiving perfection! 
It’s a little different from what you might expect, but I promise it’s delicious.  It’s cooked cavity side up, which I believe is technically “upside down”.  If you can get the past the fact that it looks a little different, it’s totally worth it to cook it this way.  It makes for an incredibly moist turkey.

There’s no basting with this recipe, which I think helps to make it fool-proof.  It’s also much more convenient.  Once you get it in the oven, it’s pretty much good to go.  I like being able to concentrate on other things once the turkey is in the oven.  And not constantly opening the oven door.  

I’ve noticed that it always seems to take much longer for the turkey to cook than what the guides on the wrappers say.  The turkey in this recipe was a 16.5 pound turkey.  Per the wrapper, it should have cooked in about 4.5 hours.  It took six.  I don’t think my oven is that far off when it comes to temperature.  Since cooking time varies so much by weight, I usually add about an hour and a half to two hours on to what the wrapper says when I’m planning what time to put it in the oven.  I check on it at the end of the longest suggested time (if the wrapper says 4 - 4.5 hours, I check it as 4.5 hours), but it has always needed the extra time.

Don’t forget to give it plenty of time to thaw if you’re using a frozen turkey.  I bought a 22 pound turkey for the big day this year, so it’s going in the fridge on Sunday to begin thawing.  The last thing you want is a partially frozen turkey in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

The measurements for this recipe are for a 16.5 pound turkey.  You’ll probably need some more vegetables if you’re cooking a larger turkey. Whenever I find that I’ve chopped more vegetables than I can stuff in the turkey, I just put the extras in the bottom of the roasting pan.  It just adds more flavor.  I like this combination of vegetables because I think the celery adds a lot of moisture, and the onions and carrots pack a lot of flavor.  And you can’t go wrong with butter.

The wine adds some nice flavor, and the water and wine together help keep the turkey moist.  It also makes for some amazingly delicious pan drippings.

You can use the vegetables in your dressing.  Rice is a Thanksgiving staple for us, and the vegetables are delicious in that as well.  I usually just add a few spoonfuls of the vegetables to the pot when I’m cooking the rice.  Because you’ll have a lot of pan drippings you can use them in rice (just replace part of the water with them), gravy, and dressing.  It’s all delicious!

3 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 stick of butter, kept cold until you’re ready to use it
1 Tbsp dried parsley, plus a little more for sprinkling
Salt & pepper to taste
2/3 cup white wine
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Remember to adjust your oven wracks first if you need to.  (It’s a lot easier when they’re cold!)

Open turkey package, and remove neck, giblets, and any plastic holding the legs together (leave the pop-up timer, though).  Place turkey, cavity side up, in a large roasting pan.  

Combine all of the vegetables in a bowl.  Chop 2/3 of the stick of butter into small cubes, and add to the vegetables.  Add 1 Tbsp parsley, and a few sprinkles of salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Stuff the vegetables inside the turkey.  You want to really pack it full.  It’s okay if they’re spilling out. If you have any left, just put them in the bottom of the pan.

This is how it should look just before you cover it.
Chop the remaining 1/3 stick of butter into squares and place them on the outside of the turkey.  I usually tuck them under the wings and legs.

Lightly sprinkle the turkey with salt, pepper, and parsley.
Pour the wine and water into the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan with foil.  You want the edges of the pan to be tightly wrapped, but allow room at the top.  Kind of tent the foil, so it’s not actually touching the turkey at the top.

Bake for 4.5 - 6 hours.  Like I said, my oven always takes a lot longer than the wrapper says.  Check on it at the end of the wrapper’s recommended time.  It’s done when the pop-up timer is out and/or when you can make a cut where the leg meets the body and the juices run clear.  If in doubt, cook it a little longer.  That’s the beauty of this recipe.  The turkey isn’t going to dry out.

Try to talk someone else into carving the turkey, and enjoy!


  1. Looks and sounds delicious. I never tried it, but I have heard you get a more moister turkey if cooked upside down. Maybe I will try it the next turkey I make. Happy Thanksgiving! Please let us know your meal goes.


  2. If I need 22 pounds of turkey, I'd buy two smaller ones. I figure that they are much younger and more tender birds. Plus they cook in less time. I never baste turkeys (it lets all the hot air escape every time you open that oven door), but always dry or wet brine them before cooking. And I always buy fresh birds just because they are so available here, locally grown. Happy Thanksgiving. I may try the cheesecloth covering this year.

  3. That sounds like a great recipe, Danielle. We're going over to our relatives' house this year, but we'll file your recipe for the next time we cook a turkey! :)

  4. The photos and recipes are mouth-watering. Happy T-giving.

  5. We never stuffed our turkey when cooking. Perhaps that's why yours takes so much longer--more stuff to cook. We'd just put some aromatics in the cavity (onion, celery, an apple) and go.

  6. I have to say, I've bailed on turkey! Yours looks delicious. This year we are having two Thanksgivings -- real TG here will be shrimp and grits and the one with family, turkey, which Rick will prepare and beautifully. I'll share you post with him! Can't wait for this week's delicious dishes!

  7. I'm thankful the only years I had to do the turkey (I'm a vegetarian) it went off without a hitch. Whew! Hope yall had a great Thanksgiving!


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