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The Chaos of Christmas Dinner

  • todao Dec 26, 2010 10:44 AM
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Christmas dinner is a team effort at our house. Everyone gets an assignment and the other kibitz; it's all in good fun. This year my assignment was preparing the protein - yep, a 16 pound turkey.
I had a good idea about how I wanted to do the job but everyone else confidently, as usual, had a different point of view. Suggestions included, roast breast down, roast breast up, stuff and don't stuff, butter rub under skin, roast fast and quick, roast low and slow. I decided I was going to include all the suggestions - just for fun.
After removing the giblet packet and cleaning the bird, I dusted it inside and out with salt and pepper and let it rest overnight. Later, while it rested for a couple of hours at room temp., I prepared a medley of chopped celery, onions, garlic, thyme, and sage and wrapped it in cheese cloth before pushing it into the cavity. Next step was to inject it with half a stick of melted butter and herbs at various key points overall and roast it breast down and uncovered at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Then I turned it over, breast up, basted it and tented it with heavy duty foil. I reduced the oven temp. to 325 and returned it to the oven for two hours, basting every 30 minutes. Then I removed the tent, cranked the oven up to 425 for 30 minutes, before re-tenting it and reducing the temp. to 275 until it reached its finished temp.
While dodging the slings and arrows of criticism, I rested the bird for half an hour before carving and serving. Results - fantastic. Golden brown, moist and flavorful. Perhaps the best turkey I've ever prepared.
Moral of the story = there are no firm fast rules for preparing a turkey. In the end, it's a surprising forgiving process.

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  1. "Later, while it rested for a couple of hours at room temp., I prepared a medley of chopped celery, onions, garlic, thyme, and sage and wrapped it in cheese cloth before pushing it into the cavity."

    "there are no firm fast rules for preparing a turkey. In the end, it's a surprising forgiving process."

    Except maybe the one about not letting raw poultry sit at room temperature for several hours. Sorry, I would have been kinda squidgy about eating that bird.

    3 Replies
    1. re: morwen

      Yes ... good point. That is a firm fast rule and I shouldn't have broken it. Thanks morwen.

      1. re: morwen

        Oh it is OK to let any protein (turkey, steaks etc) come to room temp before roasting. I never bother cleaning poultry - not needed and you create a greater contamination risk in the kitchen. Glad your bird worked out todao!

        1. re: scoopG

          This seems like a good place to remind all of us of the George Carlin school of healthy immune systems. He always ate food that dropped on the floor to keep it in tiptop shape by making it work!

          Of course, George is now dead, but....

      2. Congrats, todao, on a great bird in tough circumstances.

        I would have gone all Samuel L. on people, but surely goodness and mercy shall follow you in all the days of your life.