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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey (Ed and Eva)

About Size.
A 20# turkey served 21, subsequently 12, then two for a total of 35 people meals. It is always nice to have a second big meal including the turkey, stuffing, and gravy. After the 2006 Thanksgiving repast, we checked these figures by weighing the after dinner weight of the turkey remains and found that with 20 people eating the turkey, 7 pounds remained which works out to 0.65#/person eaten. If you subtract those little people and severely dieting adults who barely touch the turkey, the amount consumed by “eating guests” was 0.75#/person.

Salt and Pepper

Stuffing (see recipes in Bread section)

Pan drippings from turkey
4 cups chicken broth/turkey gravy/giblet soup
3 Tbs fat from turkey or vegetable oil or butter
3 Tbs flour

About sewing the turkey.
Tying the legs was required to prevent them from projecting beyond the pan. Loosely tie the legs. If you tie them tight to the body, the dark meat, which takes more time to cook than the white meat, will be underdone. Pin the cavities closed.

Wash and dry the turkey. Rub the bird with a mix of oil, salt, pepper. Expose the bird to room temperature for 30 minutes before putting in the stuffing, which should be at room temperature.

Cooking time and temperature
Heat oven to 450F. Cook turkey at this temperature for 15 minutes, then turn oven to 350F and cook at that temperature for the rest of the time.

The table below lists cooking times for different weights:

12-14 # 3 to 3-3/4 hrs
14-18# 3 3/4 to 4-1/4 hrs
18-20# 4 1/4 to 4-1/2 hrs

Add 15-20 minutes if turkey is stuffed.

Cover with foil or cloth till the last hour. Baste frequently. However, basting is not always required. The last turkey, a Plainville Farm fresh turkey, came with instructions that basting was not required. After two hours, remove the drippings from the pan. Let the fat rise to the top and remove it. Use the defatted liquid for gravy.

Measure the turkey and stuffing temperature with a thermometer. Stuffing is done @160F, bird @170F. After the bird is completely cooked, it should be covered with aluminum foil and allowed to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This will result in a 10F rise in temperature as the warmer outer layer evens out the temperature within the bird. Take this temperature rise into consideration when measuring the temperature of the bird.

If there are not enough drippings, use butter or some of the liquid prepared for the gravy. The liquid poured over the turkey will be recovered when gravy is made from the dripping in the pan while the cooked turkey is resting for a half-hour after removal from the oven. Cook the giblets to make soup. Use part of this for making the gravy and part could be used for the stuffing.

Melt the butter, add flour while continuously stirring over a small flame. After the mixture is smooth, add the liquids and giblets. Stir until mixture boils. When the turkey is resting add the pan dripping to the gravy. We have augmented the gravy with Plainville Farms Gravy, but it is not as tasty as chicken stock. The object is to have enough gravy for subsequent meals. In 2008 the kosher turkey had little fat which makes extra gravy even more desirable.

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