The biggest complaint I have heard about home baked turkey is that it is too dry. If you follow my tried and true method of turkey baking, the words “dry turkey” will never be uttered at your Thanksgiving Day table, or any other meal where you serve this delicious, moist turkey. When I tell people how I bake my turkey they always look at me like I am crazy, but it really does work and I have been cooking my turkey like this for over 30 years! This method works rather you are cooking a fresh or a thawed turkey, so when you purchase your turkey, ask for an extra paper grocery bag ‘” I will tell you why later in the article.
When cooking turkey it is important to follow safe handling instructions just as you would if you were preparing any poultry dish. Wash the turkey thoroughly, inside and out. Don’t forget to remove the neck and organ bag from the turkey’s cavities. While running under cold water, rub the turkey with your hands to remove any leftover skin covering (that brownish scaly feeling stuff usually around the legs). You will also pull out any feather roots you feel that have been left after processing.
Drain turkey and place in roaster pan. Stuff the turkey’s cavities with your favorite stuffing ‘” make sure the stuffing is moist. Contrary to most turkey stuffing instructions, you are going to really pack the stuffing in the cavities. Fit as much stuffing as possible and close the cavity, using the leg holders or another method that works for you. It is ok if the stuffing is gorging out of the cavity. The neck cavity skin can be folded under the turkey.
After stuffing, fold the wings back under the turkey. Take the wing, pull out slightly and push down until it pops underneath. This may be difficult until you have done it a few times, but keep trying until you master the method. Place turkey on the bottom shelf of a preheated, 350 degree oven. Add some chicken broth or water to the pan and bake approximately 1 hour for a medium size turkey or 1½ hours if the turkey is 18 lbs. or more.
While the turkey is in this initial bake stage, take the brown paper bag from the grocery store and open the closed end. Now cut the bag down the seam. Because the bag will be wrinkled from the folds, fold the creases in the opposite direction to get as straight as possible. Don’t worry if creases do not come out, this will not affect the end-result. Now cut the bag to fit loosely over the turkey. After the turkey has cooked for the correct time, slide out oven shelf half way, and drape the paper bag over the turkey. If you are using a gas oven, make sure the bag is away from the open flame. Slide the turkey back into the oven and bake the remaining time ‘” usually 3 to 4 hours.
Check the turkey occasionally, removing any excess juices to a saucepan. A turkey baster is a good tool to use. You can squirt some of the liquid over the turkey (not the bag) if desired, but this is not necessary. To check if the turkey is done, slide the rack out and with a potholder, shake the turkey leg as if you were shaking hands. If the leg appears loose, the turkey is done to perfection!
Remove from the oven, discard the paper bag, and let sit a few minutes. Remove stuffing, carve, and serve. Delicious – Enjoy!
Recommended: Try cooking this turkey in the best greaseless fryer!
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