With Covid-19 restrictions amping back up, I know a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings are getting smaller and smaller. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great Thanksgiving meal.
I know the idea of roasting your own turkey and cooking a big Thanksgiving meal can seem really intimidating to young mother’s and wives, because that was my experience. When I started my family, I was always really scared of the idea of roasting a whole turkey. I watched my mom doing it growing up, but it seemed like something that would be too difficult to attempt myself.
With my mom being all the way in New Orleans, and me in Colorado, I was determined to learn how to do it, because Jon and I both love Thanksgiving dinner so much. Once I tried it out, I realized its actually quite simple. Now, I cook Thanksgiving dinner several times a year. It is kind of like Jon and I’s love language.
So, here is what I usually do to make my own turkey. It very simple, no brining ahead of time.
- 1 whole turkey
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 1/2 cup butter
- Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- salt + pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 (approximately) chicken broth
- juice from cooked turkey
If you purchase your turkey frozen, you will need to defrost it before cooking. Good Housekeeping has a great guide for defrosting turkey safely.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 C), and remove the giblets and neck from the interior cavity of the turkey. You can either set these aside and save for boosting the flavor of your gravy, or just toss. Personally, I throw them away, because I do not use them when cooking the gravy. But, I know a lot of people like to do this. It’s really just personal preference.
Pat the turkey dry and place in a roasting pan. I like to use a v-rack for roasting turkeys, however its not entirely necessary. V-racks allow for even cooking all around the turkey and also keep it from tipping over (which can cause uneven browning). The v-rack also makes it easier to scoop the juice later during the basting process.
Rough chop all the veggies (onion, bell pepper, and celery), and insert into the cavity of the turkey. These three vegetables are considered the holy grail of southern cooking. Almost every recipe contains them, and they are an essential flavor trio.
Next, slide butter under the skin of the turkey. Start by loosening the skin. To do this, slowly slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey, taking care not to rip the skin, because you will loose moisture throughout the cooking process if you do. This will separate the skin from the turkey and allow for room for the butter. Push the butter in through the opening and spread all over the turkey.
Coat turkey with a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste.
Put turkey in the oven, and cook at 350 degrees. The cook time is determined by the size of your turkey, and the packaging usually has recommendations based on size.
Every twenty to thirty minutes, remove the turkey from the oven to baste. Basting is a cooking technique that involves pouring the juices produced from cooking back on top of meat, to keep it moist throughout the process. So, take your turkey out of the oven, and pour the juices over the top of the turkey using a spoon or a turkey baster.
Once the turkey has reached the cook time suggested on packaging, remove from the oven and use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature. For poultry, it is recommended that the interior of the bird reach 165 degrees (F), but I personally let it cook until about 170 degrees (F) just to be safe. If you are continually basting throughout the roasting process, your turkey will not dry out (even if cooked a little extra).
Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to fully absorb and keeps the turkey moist.
While the turkey is cooling, start making the gravy. After removing the turkey from the pan to rest, pour all the remaining juice into a stovetop pan. I like to use a strainer when doing this to collect all the extra vegetable pieces and large pieces of turkey. This way you are just left with all the turkey juice to make the gravy.
As the juice cools, you will notice that a thin layer of clear fat will form on top of the juice. Remove as much of this as you can (within reason) by collecting it with a spoon. I usually put it into a mason jar and toss later.
Put the pot on the stove and add about an inch worth of chicken broth to the pan. Bring to a boil.
While the drippings are coming to a boil, create a cornstarch and water mixture. Add enough water to the cornstarch to make a milk-like consistency.
Once the turkey juice is boiling, slowly add the cornstarch mixture using a whisk. Add a little at a time and allow to thicken in between. Once it is at a desired consistency the gravy is done!
Congratulations! You have just roasted a beautiful and delicious turkey.
Let me know in the comments below if this was easy or difficult for you. Will you try it again?