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With the holidays just around the corner, it is indeed a time for reflection. While reflecting, I remembered the time I decided to purchase a fresh turkey from a farm in New Hampshire. I was always the designated turkey cooker, back when I had my mind, and thought I would go the fresh route. A local radio host had been plugging his recipe for months and I wanted to give it a try. It was an upside down turkey recipe.
I felt a little sad selecting the turkey. Is it appropriate to explain to the bird why he is being chosen? Should you tell him to stop being so cocky about being first choice because he’s about to be decapitated, gutted, and roasted in an oven? I dunno. I bought the bully. He was bothering the smaller birds. Twenty-six pounds of gobbling feathers. Yep. It was quite a ride home. So, having great success in cooking this monster, and being the solicitous person I am, I thought I might share my upside down turkey recipe with you.
I always feel a little perverted while cleaning out a bird. I mean, think about what you are doing. Anywhooo, clean the bird (yuk), slather him in veggie oil and make four pieces of toast. Some less familiar with the upside down turkey may be a little perplexed by the toast thing, but this is key to keeping the bird looking nice. Don’t bother to butter your toast. You’re not going to eat it.
Put the toast in the center of your roasting pan and place the unstuffed turkey upside down on the toast. This is not some freaky voodoo ritual. There is a very good reason for this. You see, grasshopper, when you are crisping the bird at 425 degrees, all the juices go into the breast meat. I can’t remember how long this takes, but take a shot at a half hour or so. When he’s a whiter shade of black, take the bully out, flip him over, gush over the fact that the toast prevented his skin from sticking to the pan, and stuff that sucker.
Sprinkle all your favorite spices over the turkey. Now you have to hermetically seal the bird in foil and cook it at 325 degrees for however long you think might work. Well, minus a half hour for the final browning without the foil. Of course, basting is a must. It’s also a pain in the ass because you have to remove the foil each time, which leads to steam burns, clogged up basters, and a lot of swearing.
*NOTE* When you have a twenty-six pound bird, it is entirely possible that because of the additional weight of the stuffing, your oven rack may be susceptible to breakage. Also, a partially cooked turkey has been known to skid off the damaged rack, out of the pan, and onto the floor. Be prepared to chase it down quickly before Grandma sees you. If your rack does in fact snap, not to worry dahlink, hook it back up with a coathanger.
I might mention that if you invite eleven people for turkey on any holiday, to avoid confusion you must qualify that invitation. My guests grumbled for days because they expected all the fixins. I didn’t ask them to a turkey dinner, for crying out loud, only turkey. If I had planned on all the other crap, I would have bought a ten pounder and saved my oven rack. They were lucky I stuffed the damn thing. Can you imagine? Ingrates.
I digress. When the glorious entree is finally done, it will be soooo moist that the first stab with the carving utensils will spray the crowd with delectable juices. The skin will be crispy and golden brown, and your guests will be over the fact that there are no mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, sweet potatoes, boiled onions, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffed dates, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, heavenly hash, glazed carrots, yams, stuffed celery, olives, or chocolate cream pie. Dessert? Give ’em a bucket full of wine and a pop tart.