Family · Random Thoughts · Taste · Uncategorized

My First Turkey – Part 1

My name is Elizabeth. I’m 33 years old. I have never cooked a whole turkey, or chicken for that matter. This year, this Thanksgiving, will be the last time I will be able to say that. This year I am going for it. I’m making our family turkey. And so the adventure begins.

Step 1 – Commit to the turkey dinner. Check
Step 2 – Buy the Turkey. Check.
Step 3 – uhhhh what comes next?

Turkey dinner fixings
Everything I need (I hope) for my first turkey and pumpkin pie!

Yep. That was what was going thru my mind after bringing my 15 pound turkey home. Where to start? When I find myself with a question I often head over to Twitter as it’s been a wonderful, real-time resource for so many things ranging from knitting to chicken care and tonight turkey cookin’. So I have this turkey in my freezer and I start to think about what’s next – well before I can cook it, it needs to defrost. Huh. Wonder how long that takes.

This leads me to the first tweet of the night, “Sooooo does anyone know how long it takes to defrost a 15 pound turkey?” Most of the responses that came back were 3-4 days. I guess this makes sense as it’s a pretty big hunk of bird. I then ask “Is there some sort of formula to follow or just guess & hope it’s ready?” My favorite reply came from whoever tweets for @Oldportcandy “Secret formula was I asked my mom!! 🙂 She said take it out Monday.” When in doubt – ask mom! @TaenneLeighM said “I’d take it out on Sunday night, before you go to bed, because you’re going to start cooking it Thursday morning.” And then she sent me this link to a turkey cheat sheet. I love cheat sheets. And Sunday night I’ll take the bird out of the chill chest as Alton Brown says.

Okay now I know how long it will take to get ready to cook. What about the actual cooking part. I can’t even begin to tell you how many recipes on how to cook/flavor a turkey I’ve seen over the years. I have no idea where to begin but think probably going basic would be good for a newbie like me. And of course everyone and their entire family have their own ideas on the best/easiest way to roast a turkey.

Two of my knitting friends, @spinndiva and @homerknits, and I have a lengthy tweet session discussing the next few steps of Project First Turkey. Here is the Reader’s Digest version – for seasoning of the turkey @homerknits says “Salt and pepper, butter under the skin and anything else I have on hand. Garlic sounds weird but is good!” This sounds good and I think I’ll skip the garlic but perhaps add a few shallots into the cavity. Maybe. I have no idea if that would be good or not so maybe just stick with the salt pepper, butter oh and maybe some rosemary.

Next question – how long am I looking at cooking this bird. We haven’t set a dinner time yet but I know I’m going to need to plan ahead. Oh yeah, and I’m making my first pumpkin pie too! I might try to do that a day or so ahead so I don’t have to worry about anything other than the bird and Brussels sprouts on Thursday.  Both @spinndiva and @homerknits ask if the bird has a pop up timer. I have no idea – it’s wrapped in a bag! Next trip to the kitchen I’ve been told to read the label as the turkeys are usually marked. Right – I need to do that soon. This lead me to ask if I need a thermometer so I can tell when it’s done…oh yeah and how long to cook this thing? @spinndiva says the rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound. Okay I have a 15lb turkey….at 20 minutes per pound…..300 minutes…..5 HOURS!?!??! Seriously!?!?! Oh boy! I’m glad I’m thinking about this now and not Thursday morning.

Okay. I can do this. I can do this. I can….oh boy!

And so begins this ordeal/experience/adventure. Ahhh but what to call it…again to twitter I go for suggestions. Project First Turkey comes from @spinndiva – I like this name. Simple and to the point – totally me. Then I get from @sillygirlsarah – “Project Turkey Lurkey, Moist Meat, Get Me To The Bird On Time, No Bird Left Behind or…Project Edible” I love these titles and totally what I expected to get from twitter. The one that made me laugh out loud and I’ve decided will be the code name is “Occupy My Oven” as suggested by @OneOfTheHive. I love it. So here ends Part 1 of Project First Turkey –code name Occupy My Oven. Thanks for joining me and stay tuned for Part 2…though I’m not sure what that is yet.


7 thoughts on “My First Turkey – Part 1

  1. LOL you are so funny – can’t wait for Part 2.
    You will do fine – yes make the pumpkin pie the day before.
    So are you cooking the turkey stuffed or are you cooking the
    stuffing by itself?
    And….don’t forget to ask Mom – bet she has cooked a few.
    I DO have a meat thermometer if you want to use it….
    Your groceries look good – someday when this event is past I will
    write the story of the first Thanksgiving Turkey dinner. Your
    plan looks very reasonable by comparison 🙂
    How many people are you making dinner for?

    1. I’ll do the stuffing separately. I read somewhere that it adds to the cooking time and something about better chance of bacteria. I could do without that on the big day 🙂 I’m only cooking for my 3 and my mom. Glad I’m doing a 1st with only a small (and forgiving) group. 😉

  2. Sounds like the beginnings of something delicious! I’ve never defrosted or cooked a frozen turkey so I’m learning here too. I’ve always used fresh which cooks faster.
    Also, you might want to check out brining your turkey. This guarantees a juicy bird. So, in case you were to overcook, no problem! Brining is a simple mixture of water, salt, sugar, and seasonings that you put the turkey in to soak overnight.
    One last thing…before you cook the bird let it rest on the counter at room temperature for almost an hour.
    Can’t wait to read part 2.
    Happy Sunday!

    1. I’ve heard from several folks that I should brine. I’m going to research it this week. Hadn’t heard about having it at room temperature for an hour – what is the benefit/point of this piece of it?

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