How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey Testimonials Page 13

  • Hello and thank you for your wonderful turkey recipe and website.

    When I read your recipe, I KNEW that it was going to be a fabulous turkey!  My new husband (of 1 ½ months) & I bought a turkey specifically to bake on New years day since we didn’t have the opportunity to host our family’s Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners and get all those wonderful leftovers to eat for the next few days (Mom got that privilege). Well, needless to say our New Year’s Day turkey wasn’t officially cooked until the day after new years (yesterday). I followed your instructions pretty much to the “T”. It came out exactly as your website had stated; succulent, tasty and just a wonderful success! I also made most of the fixins to go with it, so now we have a great treasure of leftovers. We picked an 18 lb turkey so we could have leftovers. After our belated New Years Day feast, we have quite a bit of leftovers for this week. In addition, we froze 5 bags of both dark and white meat for later on in the month!

    I do want to say that I had to modify your recipe a little because I don’t own a roasting pan, nor did I get one of those foil pans. I squeezed my bird into a lasagna baking pan and then wrapped it with 3 layers of aluminum foil and folded the ends tightly into the pan to create a moisture trapped situation. I placed a cookie sheet underneath the pan on the bottom rack in the oven to catch the drippings (used for the gravy later). I substituted the baking temperature of 265 degrees instead of the 250. I took your professional cook’s idea and melted my butter and mixed the rosemary and thyme into it, then I placed the butter mixture into the freezer so it would be more of a solid when I applied it to the breasts underneath the skin. Using vinyl nursing gloves, made that part very easy for clean up. I highly recommend your slow roasting recipe to anyone, it not only make such great sense, the outcome is just delectably fabulous!

    If this new years turkey is any indication of how the rest of the year will be, then we are off to a great start!!

    Linda B., RN Lynchburg, VA
  • I have never been a fan of Turkey, not having grown up with it. My parents always had either duck or goose for Thanksgiving and Christmas. After my mother passed away, I started being invited by other people for Thanksgiving and always was confronted with a bird that I could not understand why anyone would want to eat. Dry or moist, it always tasted like parchment to me. But Thanksgiving time, 2011, someone gave me a turkey. I knew some of the tips of preparation, but I decided to go on-line and brush up. I found your site.

    What a difference! It was so easy, and on my first try it didn't look special, but, never mind moist, it was absolutely succulent! And considering how juicy the turkey was I was surprised with the amount of drippings which made a lovely gravy. It was the first time I had eaten a turkey which tasted like a bird, not parchment. It was better than any turkey, home cooked or restaurant, by housewife, professional cook or chef that I had ever eaten. So yesterday, being Christmas Day (on the Julian Calendar), Jan. 7, 2012, I decided to do it again, and this time adding rosemary and thyme as suggested, and being more careful about making a dome of tinfoil around it. This time the it was a beautiful golden brown, and the meat was practically ready to fall off the bone, succulent and better tasting than any turkey I have ever had.

    Thank you!

    Luke G., 01/08/12

  • Hi there.

    I think maybe it's because i've used your method several times that I'm going ahead and sending you feedback.

    Years ago I was lost about how to cook a turkey. The first time I tried, I used this method, and it didn't work.

    The turkey was almost raw coming out of the oven.

    Since then, I've had perfect (if sometimes overcooked... meat falling from the bone) results. Even when the turkey is overcooked, it's still delicious. The aesthetics of a perfectly bronzed turkey to carve are silly to me. If it tastes DELICIOUS, that's all I need.

    So, here's what was different from attempt #1 and subsequent events. I hope this helps, and that you'll relay to your readers.

    Aluminum foil has TWO sides. One is dull, the other is shiny. This makes a big difference when cooking. *Supposedly* the shiny side in will allow the heat to penetrate through the foil and then bounce within the foil and retain heat and cooking temperatures. BUT having the shiny side out will bounce heat AWAY from the bird and not let as much cooking temperature in to cook the turkey properly.

    I was never much of a cook... so maybe this is all common knowledge for season cooks, but just as you warned beginners to remove the giblets from within the turkey, this might also need a pointer.

    THANKS MUCH for your instructional!
    N-dig0 1/11/12

    Note: I have incorporated this information into the recipe. I'm sure this will be a big help in reducing the number of unexplained Turkey Disasters!
  • Hi there,

    After seeing all the rude people you've had to put up with sharing your cooking tips with the world, I just had to mention these people need to take responsibility for their own problems.  I had a turkey from Christmas I never got around to cooking till today and it's my first ever so I did a search and your website topped google search.  Congratulations on that by the way... I was really happy when my website back in the day was near the top when "oregon wedding photographers" was typed in a search engine.  Not bad at all :)

    I've always been the pick and choose person when it comes to recipes... I might look at three or four and pick what I want to do out of them all or based on what ingredients I have on hand.  In this case I followed the heating instructions mostly but turned the heat to 250 as soon as I put the turkey in.  I also used all your herb, salt, pepper suggestions but didn't want to get my hands messy with putting anything under the skin so I just threw a stick of butter in a cooking bag with the turkey.  

    It's still cooking as I write this and I just temped the 6 lb turkey at 150 after 2 hours so I figure it will be done in an hour.  People need to understand there is a lot of variation when it comes to cooking times with these things.  All that bitching and blaming just pissed me off a little.  So I wanted to let you know I appreciate the info you are putting out there and I'm sure it helped me.  I can't wait to taste the results.

    Thanks again, Tim F. 1/17/12

    Note: You are so right when you say there lots of variations. I still always feel bad when someone has trouble. It's usually a big, important day when people cook a turkey. There's family all around... they're hungry... and their eyes are on the cook. So there's a lot of pressure. And, when things don't go right, emotions run high. I understand why they're upset. That's why every time I find out something new about to avoid these problems, which almost always comes from people who are successful and far better cooks than I am, I put the information on the website.

  • I was delighted to find your recipe and try it this past Christmas.  I'd love to use the recipe again as the turkey was moist and delicious, however, I kept the turkey covered the entire time (I never did see in the directions when or where to uncover) and the bird "looked" uncooked.  Can you please tell me how to get the turkey browned? Lisa, 1/22/12

    Note: I think the next time you make it leave the lid off for the first 20 minutes while it's cooking at 475°.
  • Just wanted to share with you that in my family we raise the turkey skin and insert rashers of bacon.  These drip slowly as they cook and make a delicious crisp nibble at the finish for those who enjoy this sort of thing. We live in the country and can get thick rashers, un-poisoned-by-chemicals/preservatives, from the farm next door.

    Angela P., 1/24/12
  • I cooked a turkey yesterday (12.92 lbs) according to your method – the dark meat turned out nicely, however the white meat was a bit dry.

    I cooked the turkey initially at 475°F for 20 minutes and then dropped down to 250F for 4 hrs and 20 min since it was nearly a 13lb turkey. I think I realized my mistake – the total cook time should be 4h 20min and I cooked it for 4hrs and 40mins.

    The color of the turkey is marvelous. My mom was proud that I was able to get such good browning to occur.

    I’ll try this again as it’s quite easy to cook the bird according to this method.

    Thanks again, Wes, 4/30/12

  • I have used your method once before, and it turned out okay. I wasn't raving about it though. I think I forgot the butter and spices...
    I tried it again today. I know, it's June, but it's rainy and cold, and would help heat the house. Besides, I missed doing it for Easter because I was in the hospital!
    So it was an 11.5 lb turkey. I remembered the butter, and used just rosemary because I had no thyme. I think I mistakenly only did the first 20 minutes at 425 instead of 475! But as I live at higher altitude, and did happen to have an electronic thermometer, I used it to be sure the bird was cooked properly. The thermometer says to cook until the breast is 180 degrees, so that was what I did. It only took about 15 minutes longer, and so I am not sure if that was altitude, or if I did have the initial temperature a bit too low, or that the turkey was a half pound bigger. Either way it wasn't a problem. If this HAD been a big turkey day, 15 minutes is no big deal - it usually takes that much time to get the rest of the food on the go! I was very pleased with the result, especially with the rosemary as I didn't get heavy handed with it (I tend to be a "the more the better" kind of person, often to my regret!) It was very moist. Now that I know I can trust the oven and the thermometer, I may do turkey more often!

    Andrea S., 6/9/12
  • Last Thanksgiving, I used your guidelines and the result was a juicy, mouth-watering turkey with a caribbean flavor! This was actually my first turkey ever, so I was really thrilled. I use the guideline for doing chicken also and the result is the same. The 475 degree used has been blowing my mother away but it works perfectly.
    Thank you very much.
    Dennis E., 6/27/12
  • I have been using your method for the last three years and I can say that with out a doubt, everyone raves about how juicy and flavorful the turkey is!

    Even funnier is that I always have the best turkey that everyone wants, and I'm a vegetarian; I don't even eat meat! If a vegetarian can cook a perfect turkey with this method, then anyone can!

    I' also used the same principles with whole chicken. Turns out perfect every time.

    Thank you so much for helping me to make great food for my family.

    Angela B., 7/8/12

  • Bought a frozen butterball turkey on Tuesday. Thawed it in refrigerator until today (Saturday). Let it sit at room temperature x 1 hour. Removed giblets n neck.  Weighed it on Bathroom scale = 15 lbs. Planned 5 hours of cooking at  250F.  Seasoned it. Preheated oven to 475, covered turkey with foil (shiny side in)  put turkey in for 20 min, then lowered to 250 and left in for 4 hours.

    At that point - yellowish, not brownish, breast temperature 160F.
    Put back in. Checked it at the 5th hour when it should have been done. The wings were brown, but the rest still yellow. Thigh at 165F.
    Put back in and checked at 5 1/2 hours.
    Breast 165F, still yellow, not pretty copper brown like yours. Checked at 6 hours - breast still 165, still yellowish.
    I guess my gas oven isn't at the right temperature. Luckily no one is waiting for this to be served at the table. I was making it to have roasted turkey for sandwiches all week. It does look juicy though.
    Should I have uncovered it to help it brown or just be patient?

    Follow up: 15 lb bird. Out of fridge at 6:30 a.m., in 475 at 7:30 a.m. Turned temperature down to 250 by 8 a.m. Finally ready at 3:19 p.m. Thigh temperature 180. A little longer than I expected, but very juicy and delicious. Will check oven temperature before doing another time.
    Thanks. Yael from Montreal, Canada, 10/6/12