When people think of a single Father of four, they probably immediately think of someone who can throw together a Thanksgiving dinner like a wizard, summoning together pent up powers of dormant domesticity to his beck and call. I do hate to destroy such a beautiful fantasy, but perhaps the following guide can help (or hurt).
How to Make a Turkey … Like a Single Father
Things you'll need:
- Lots of time (like two days at least)
- 1 gallon of Vegetable broth
- 1 cup of Kosher salt
- Poultry Herb mix (Sage, rosemary, and thyme)
- Turkey Oven Bag
- 2 1/2 gallon Ziploc bag.
- Cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 lemon.
How You'll do it:
1st – Try to talk the children out of Turkey for Thanksgiving. (After suggesting steak, or pizza, or anything else, my 6 year old girl said "Daddy, don't you know that Turkey is a Thanksgiving tradition?"
2nd – Talk to people who cook Turkey more often than I do.
3rd – Get a rough idea of how you're going to cook the Turkey
It should be mentioned that this all has to happen in advance. You need to be able to thaw the turkey, that can take a day, you need to be able to brine the turkey for 24 hours… and then you're going to cook it over night.
4th - Plan on spending hours in the grocery store… most of the time thinking something like:
"They probably have exactly what I want… somewhere." and "I wish I could ask someone where this stuff is at." (I am a guy after all, directions… asking for… directions?!"
5th – Thaw the turkey. I'm so good at thawing a turkey, this is really a confidence building stage.
6th – Boil the brine (That's the 1 gallon of vegetable broth + 1 cup of salt, + a small amount of the poultry herb mix, and 1/4 of a lemon, or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. It helps give a fresh taste, which you don't notice beyond that, and breaks down the turkey a little.) I also added some fresh garlic, and onion, and some black peppers, and a few chives until it smelled really tasty.
7th – Let the brine cool. I'm really good at this part too.
8th – Get the disgusting parts out of the turkey.
9th – Put the turkey in the brine bag (The HUGE Ziploc back worked for me)
10th – Pour the brine all over the outside of the bag trying to get some of it inside.
11th – Let the air out of the bag so it's just turkey and brine.
12th – Let the brine and turkey get to know each other for about 24 hours… no longer. (Longer than 24 hours and it starts tasting too salty… I was told.)
13th – Remove from brine, put digital thermometer into the turkey breast (really, if you don't have one but do want to cook a turkey, it's worth the expense of buying one.)
14th – Set the timer on the thermometer to go off when the turkey is at 185 Degrees Fahrenheit. (Really… there's no more awesome way to cook than to have the alarm go off when it's done.)
15th – Put the aromatics inside the turkey. (I used the rest of the herbs from the fresh poultry herb mix I bought, I used a couple cinnamon sticks, and a half sliced up apple. (I cut it, but didn't cut it up.)
I totally refuse to eat stuffing … or anything else cooked inside the turkey, to me… that's disgusting, and it's not healthy… and it's disgusting. So I use things that'll smell good and flavor the meat with tasty smells for that space.
At this stage I also put a small coating of butter on the outside so that the juices wouldn't escape the turkey as easily.
16th – Put it in the Turkey oven cooking bag upside down on the disposable turkey pan.
In the turkey bag I put 1 table spoon of flower… because the directions told me to.
I cooked the turkey upside down so that the juices would self baste.
I cut tiny holes in the bag so the steam could escape and not blow up the bag.
I poured a cup of water in the bottom of the turkey pan to keep things moist… just in case.
17th – Set the oven to 350 and time it for one hour. This took my turkey from 40 degrees to somewhere around 120, it kills all the "make you sick" bacteria that will make you sick.
18th – After one hour, turn the oven to 185 degrees… or 190, 200 probably even works.
19th – Go to sleep.
20th – Do all the other thanksgiving meals stuff.
I had the children help me with the deviled eggs. (Special Note: If you want to eat fewer eggs, have children help you peel them. *crunch!!!*)
21st – When you're other meals are almost done, flip the oven to 250 if the timer hasn't already gone off.
22nd – Presentation.
I had hoped to make the turkey look golden and delicious at this point, but it fell apart when I was taking it out of the bag. Perhaps if my dinner guests weren't still wearing pajamas and totally unconcerned about how the turkey looked when I put it on the table I could have just put the meat on a serving plate.
23rd – After you eat, pass out on the couch with your baby girl who couldn't take the tryptophan overdose either.
How does it taste?
To be honest I've never had a turkey that fell apart before I ever got it on my plate. I know a lot of Father's out there and a lot of the "Heads of Household" that cherish the moment where they cut the Turkey. It's traditional to cut the turkey and show that they're the Boss. I didn't even have to get the knife out this year. It kind of just fell apart on the plate, fell apart as I was serving it, fell apart in my mouth when I ate it, and fell apart when putting the leftovers away. Cooking a turkey was intimidating to me, It wasn't easy, but other than presentation I'd say it turned out extremely well. It was the first time I ever cooked the Turkey. Maybe next time I'll try goose.
How do you cook your turkey?
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