Holiday turkey

Your turkey must be completely thawed before roasting. It takes days to thaw out any size turkey. If you have a 15 pounder plus, I’d put it in the fridge on Saturday, giving it days to thaw naturally.

I still frequently find that the turkey cavity is still frozen, in which case I run cool tap water through it until I am satisfied.

I was recently forced to use a 17 pound turkey for a dinner, with three days notice. I put the turkey in a 5 gallon pot and let it sit in cold water, aid in the slow thaw. We do not want the outside of our bird to be thawed when the inside is frozen…slow is the key. The last day before it is cooked, removed the wrapper, and soak some more, then do the brine overnight. The salt will speed up the process. After sitting in cold water for several hours, put the bird in the fridge overnight, and continue the next day. This is a guide; not a bible.

Do not salt your bird cavity if you are stuffing your bird.

I have been putting my turkeys in brine for the past several years with a lot of success. The bird is juicier and has more flavor.

I usually cook 20 lb turkeys. You may have to adjust the amounts of salt and sugar based on the size of your turkey.

2 C salt

1 C sugar

3-6 cloves garlic (three is plenty)

whole onion, quartered

1 T black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

pinches rosemary and thyme

I have a 5 gallon pot that I brew beer in. I dissolve the sugar and salt in about a gallon of water before putting the rest of the ingredients.

Dissolve your salt and sugar add some water. You can put the rest of the ingredients after you get your turkey in the pot. Cover and soak in fridge for 8-10 hours. No more than this. And if your bird weighs less than 18 pounds, put a little less sugar and salt as well.

Remove bird from pot when ready to roast. Rinse well and pat dry. Stuff bird with X’s stuffing. Also stuff neck cavity and secure with skewer.

Rub butter or olive oil on bird.

I use a Reynolds brown n bag…in a roaster pan…on a cookie sheet for support. Preheat your oven to 325°. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. There is no substitute. Heat until internal temp is 165°. Put probe in breast or thigh.

Tuck the wings under the bottom of the bird.

The turkey may get over brown on top of the breast and the tops of the legs. If so, make a aluminum foil tent, and  place over top of bird to finish roasting.

Bird is done when leg moves easily in joint.

The brown n bag has approximate cooking times. It comes with heat proof twisty ties. Don’t tie the bag shut too tight or it will explode. Leave it a little loose so the steam can escape.

Do stuff your bird. There is no substitute for stuffing from the bird.

Remove from oven. With some help, I usually snip the end of the bag and drain the contents for the gravy.


1/4 C fat from your juices or butter or oil or combination

1/4 flour

juices from turkey or broth

water from boiled potatoes

little bit half and half

If you can separate the juices from bird; ie, fat from juices, by all means use the fat; but be sure to measure it. Avoid getting any liquid into your fat.

In saucepan, heat your oil or fat until hot. Add your flour and cook over medium heat until flour starts to brown. Remove from heat and add 2 C broth, juices and heat until it boils and  thickens. You can add a little milk to lighten if you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Basically, 1/4 C oil and flour with 2 C broth will yield about 2 1/2 C gravy. I always make double for holidays.

For a holiday turkey, I make a double batch of gravy; remember equal amounts of fat and flour x 8 is your yield

1/2 C flour and fat, yields 4 cups gravy

mix your broth, potato water for your liquids to your desire…add only a couple of tablespoons of half and half if desired; it is not required.


The last time I made this, I used juices exclusively from the bird to made the gravy. It was salty. The saltiness comes from the butter rubbed on the bird, and the stuffing. Perhaps use only half of your liquid for your gravy from the actual turkey juices.

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