For the last 3 years I’ve been in London for Thanksgiving but I’ve made sure that each year I celebrate my favorite holiday no matter what country I happen to be in! Luckily, my husband’s family and friends are so welcoming and wonderful that I am still surrounded my people I love and they seem to look forward to it as well.
This year I have a 9 lb bird (4.2 kg) which would normally feed about 4-5 people. I picked this bird up at the Leadenhall Butcher in the City of London. I love this butcher and being that they are in the City there are LOTS of Americans around demanding turkeys for Thanksgiving and they are always prepared. It is a beautiful free range bird but unfortunately I’ve forgotten the specific breed. I normally would have purchased a frozen turkey from the supermarket but I was running out of time to allow it to defrost so decided to buy a fresh bird instead. Please note that a free range fresh bird from the butchers can be pricey but you should be able to find a turkey in your price range either at the butcher or the supermarket.
I served the turkey with Rich Giblet Gravy, Creamed Spinach, stuffing, cranberry sauce, corn, mashed potatoes and pasta. The pasta was because I had more guests that expected and wanted to make sure no one went away hungry. There was no need to worry though as we had plenty of turkey. For desert we had Grandpap’s Pumpkin Pie and Del Monte Molasses Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
I really feel so good on days like this. I know that I’m making a meal that will make people’s bellies smile and while I’m cooking there is a special on television on the making of the latest Harry Potter movie. I’m in heaven! So let us get started!
Salt and Pepper
Optional: Onions, celery, carrots, or any other stock vegetable
- If you purchased a frozen bird make sure you have defrosted it, you will most likely have needed to start this 2-3 days beforehand.
- Make sure that you have also cooked your stuffing ahead of time and allowed it to cool.
- Then get the bird out of the fridge and about an hour before you plan to roast it so that it can reach room temperature.
- Remove the giblets and put back in the fridge until you are ready to use them to make the Rich Giblet Gravy. The giblets could contain the neck, heart, lungs, liver and gizzard. I usually only use the neck, heart and lungs (as seen below).
- Prepare your pan. I used a large roasting dish with a rack inside to keep the bird out of the juices.
- Before putting the rack in the pan, pour about 2-3 cups of chicken stock into the bottom of the pan. This will mix with the drippings and at the end help immensely when you make the gravy. You can use turkey stock if you like but I did not have any around and prefer chicken anyway. I also used stock cubes to make the stock because it is what I had around but chicken stock of any kind would be appropriate.
- Optionally, you can place some celery, carrots and/or onions in the bottom of the pan that will help doctor your stock. You do not have to do this at all but it can give a nice extra touch to the gravy especially if you have not been able to use homemade chicken stock. Make sure that the vegetables are small enough that they can fit under the rack. These will be strained out afterwards so I have even left the brown skin on the onions as they actually help make the stock a lovely golden color.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F or 175 C (160 C Fan).
- Separate your stuffing beforehand, one lot to go in the bird and the other as extra. You want to do this to prevent cross contamination from touching the bird and touching the stuffing. This way the stuffing that you have separated to keep for extra will not come in contact with the bird or any utensils that may have touched the bird. If you have any stuffing left over that was supposed to go in the bird and may be contaminated throw it away.
- Pack the stuffing into the cavity of the bird but do not over stuff as it will add to the cooking time.
- Like the stuffing, separate your butter and place a handful of butter aside to rub on the bird. Again, we do this to make sure that we do not contaminate any other butter.
- Rub the bird liberally with butter. You can also use oil (cooking, olive or spray) but I think butter is best.
- Sprinkle with pepper and a bit of salt. Not too much salt because that can actually help to dry out the bird.
- Some people then tie of the legs to keep the stuffing in and to make a prettier bird at presentation. I do not do this and actually pull the legs away from the body a bit to make sure that they cook evenly and it helps quicken the cooking time.
- Pop it in the oven uncovered and cook as per the directions or the guidelines below. For the first hour allow it to brown, only open the oven to cover in foil to prevent from over browning during this time.
Do not open the oven again until there is 1.5 hours left before the turkey would be done cooking. As I had a 9 lb bird it took about 2.5-3 hours to cook. I’ve only just popped my bird in about 5 minutes ago and already my kitchen smells incredible. How am I going to wait 3 hours for this yummy feast?!?!?!?
http://www.allrecipes.com/ has a great guide to cooking your bird that you can view if you click here. Below is a snippet from that article.
- While your turkey is roasting make sure that you use this time to prepare your other dishes. You bird will need about 20-30 minutes to rest once it comes out of the oven but that is probably not enough time to cook all your side dishes.
I use this time to make the gravy. Either at the point that I need to cover the bird to keep it from over browning or when I start basting I collect about a cup of liquid from the bottom of the pan and use this to make the gravy. Click here to see how to make Rich Giblet Gravy.
- Once you only have 1.5 hours for the left to cook the turkey baste it by using a baster or a spoon to dowse the turkey in the liquid in the bottom of the pan. A baster is easiest with the rack and allows you to get the juice on the bottom and not the fat on the top.
Then place the turkey back in the oven. When basting make sure that you get the turkey in and out quickly without leaving the door open too long to let out the heat. Also, be aware of how long you have the turkey out of the oven. Be safe and do not go so fast that you risk burning yourself but do not waste time.
Also make sure that you continue to add water or stock to the bottom of the dish as needed to keep it from completely evaporating.
- Then baste it again in 30 minutes. Then baste it again in 15 minutes. Then bast it again in 15 minutes. Each time returning it to the over to continue to cook until the 1.5 hours is over.
- Remove the turkey, give it a final basting and then cover the whole pan in foil and set aside to rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the stuffing and place in a serving bowl and then carve the bird. There are so many sites on how to best carve a bird. All I do is remove each breast in one large chunck each, then remove each leg and wing, then slice off the remaining meat that you can. Then cut of the breasts of meat to serving sized portions.
- Serve and enjoy!