We never had turkey dinner at Christmas when I was a kid, simply because we just couldn't seem to cook one properly.
It wasn't that my parents were not good cooks, it's that, for one reason or another, the turkey would just not cooperate. It was either tough, underdone, overcooked, or dry - or any combination of the above.
As a result, the Long household had to settle for ham as our Yuletide main meal.
So when I grew up and had to fend for myself in the kitchen, I determined that I would break the curse and cook a bird that was just right.
Over the next several years I tried all the options in search of a juicy, tender, colourful, and tasty turkey experience.
In the end, I believe I have succeeded, so I offer you the following recipe to ensure that your family and guests can always enjoy turkey at Christmas.
Get a nice looking bird, it doesn't matter what kind - Grade A, B, or C; frozen or fresh. It just has to look the right shape.
Rinse it in water and sprinkle all over with poultry seasoning.
Stuff with a mixture of cut-up bread fried in a wok with finely chopped celery, onions, and anything else you have kicking around (walnuts, mushrooms, giblets, sausage, etc.) - and again lots of poultry seasoning.
Place in roasting pan using a turkey lifter (a grill with handles that goes under the bird). This is important, because the bird will be so tender it will fall apart when you try to lift it out without one.
Smear 1/4 cup of butter over the breast and cover loosely with a foil tent, shiny side out. Cook at 450ÂºF for an hour, then reduce the heat to 375ÂºF for about 20 minutes a pound. Remove the foil tent for the last 20 minutes, until the bird turns golden brown.
Remember to rotate and baste the bird often, using one of those giant eyedropper-looking things, and poke a hole in the skin just above the drumstick and squirt the juices into it.
NOW HERE ARE THE REAL IMPORTANT BONUS TIPS:
Turkeys cook best if there's lots of activity in the kitchen, with everyone trying to tell you better ways to cook it and different ways to tell if it's done.
Some want to use bags, Dutch ovens, thermometers, pop-up devices, and more. The real way to know it's ready is to shake the leg. It should move freely, but if you're not sure, give the leg a little twist, and if you think it will pull right off, it's done!
Take the bird out and let it stand 15 minutes, and let the juices drain. Then remove it for carving.
There should be lots of juice left to make a nice gravy.
Gravy? Oh, that's another story. Merry Christmas and bon appetite! (For more on stuffing and/or gravy, visit www.chickenbob.com/ stuffing.html and www.chickenbob. com/GibletGravy.html.)
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