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start/stop a roasting turkey?

Sorry to be such a pain on here, but I've never roasted a turkey and don't want to mess it up! I read brining was a good idea but I've just been too busy to fool with it, bird's been in the fridge and has been defrosted for a few days, so I need to cook it soon!

This may sound goofy, but since it takes a while to roast it, has anyone started the process, then gone to bed, put it in the fridge, and resumed cooking it in the morning? Or is that a ridiculous proposal that would lead to a ruined turkey?

I'd like to begin tonite and finish tomorrow rather than cook it for hours on Saturday, but if I must I must.


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  1. No. Once you start, you have to finish it. All of that acclimatising between hot and cold will not only dry out the meat, but is an open invitation to all sorts of food-borne nasties.

    It won't take that long to roast.

      1. Cut the back bone out and flatten it out on a rimmed half size sheet pan. Then spread with olive oil and roast in a 400ยบ oven. It shouldn't take more than 2 hours and the breasts will be much moister (due to the quicker cooking time) than if you had roasted it whole.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LaureltQ

          YES! This is a great idea. More crispy skin too! :)

        2. Cook the turkey in one shot, especially if you plan to stuff the bird with stuffing.

          1. There's no need to apologize for posting a question on this forum; that's what it's for. Every one of the members who respond to your questions has something to share. Some of it will be well founded, some speculative, some based on minimal experience. But it's all valuable and you can pick and choose from the responses to achieve your personal goals. Every one of the members who post responses here has been in your shoes. Relax, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy your kitchen.
            Let us know how that turkey turned out.

            1. Unless it's huge, it doesn't take long to cook a turkey. Don't worry about messing it up. Just keep it simple the first time. Take the giblets out (check both cavities). Rub it all over on the outside - legs, wings, breast, etc. with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. That's it. If you have an apple and and an onion on hand, slice them up, toss them with poultry seasoning, and stuff 'em in the bird with a pat of butter.

              Good luck - you'll be a pro in no time.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Whinerdiner

                Thanks you guys! That's why I love this board, it girds me with confidence to tackle new kitchen ventures. Very nice comments...

                1. re: sanglier

                  The best place for a beginning culinary artist to begin, IMO, is to learn as much as possible about food safety. The information is free through USDA Internet sources (and other sources as well) Cross contamination, temperatures for cooking and storage, etc.. Once those are mastered, cooking errors are simply a disappointment from which we all survive. Carelessness in the handling of food, before, during or after preparation, can be devastating.

                2. re: Whinerdiner

                  + 1 Very important that you look at both ends (and reach into the cavity) of the turkey for the mystery bag. Nothing can be a bigger downer to a perfect looking turkey is pulling out a partially cooked bag of giblets.

                  Most of us are familiar with cooking chicken where we look at the tail end. Turkeys have enough space at both ends to hide the bag.

                  1. re: dave_c

                    Thanks Dave! I reached in, got the one with the giblets...but nothing else inside! Felt around more and there it was, a smaller one with the liver. Both are in the roasting pan for flavor, or actually, maybe I should've waited to throw them in toward the end, given how small they are. Oh well..

                    1. re: sanglier

                      OK, helpful gang, the turkey is roasted, and at first glance, it looks stellar! I roasted it using the convection bake feature at 300 degrees. Meat thermometer says165, check. (BTW, I used a spice blend brought back from the Istanbul Spice Bazaar; smells are nice and exotic, coupled with crispy skin from convection.)

                      Anyway, final hurdle: I have the pan drippings in a bowl. I'm going to refrigerate and skim off the fat tomorrow. But when I go to "make the final gravy", would that be when I"d toss in the giblets and liver that roasted in the pan, for flavor? Do I sorta mash down the liver and incorporate it into the sauce, and just yank out the giblets as though it were, say, a bay leaft? (Oh, I assume that is the giblet/giblets, a U-shaped bone with scant meat on it?)

                      As always, your input is invaluable.

                      1. re: sanglier

                        U-shaped bone would be the neck. You might hang onto it if you're planning on making stock with Mssr. Le Bird's carcass!

                        I think the giblets have probably given their all, frankly, and can be discarded. I don't enjoy the texture of mushed-up liver in gravy, but to each his own!

                        1. re: LauraGrace

                          OK, I didn't pay attention when my offbeat high school biology class disected a turkey instead of a pig. How embarrasing...it's the neck, of course! Well, then, hmmm...that must've been the liver AND the giblets squishing around, not just the liver. Thanks for not hitting me with a good line, LauraGrace! I certainly have it coming!

                          1. re: sanglier

                            Hahaha, no, not at all! It's one of those things that, if you haven't seen it before, it looks like an alien part. I just had the dubious honor of picking meat off the neck as a teenager (mom always wanted it in the dressing at thanksgiving)...


                3. you guys are so spoiled. When I buy a turkey for T'giving (which is a splurge, because Thanksgiving doesn't exist in Europe, other than the celebration held on the Saturday after by expat Americans...!) not only are all the giblets in the cavity, but they're still attached (as is the head and the feet). I'm used to it now, but the first year was a lot of the "icky dance" in my kitchen.

                  I will never take a Butterball for granted again.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Just when you thought you were rid of me! I'm in the home stretch now! Bird came out well, it's been carved and put into Ziploc bags and in the fridge as I decide the various ways to use the meat. I have the pan drippings in the fridge, ready to have the small amount of top-fat skimmed and put into service. Now, the carcass: I'm going to simmer it with root vegetables, aromatics, etc. When I'm done and left with the stock, should I either 1) incorporate it into the pan drippings for a final sauce, or 2) chill it and use it as the base for soup or other dishes.

                    Thank you, most helpful 'Hounders!

                    1. re: sanglier

                      I always end up with a LOT of stock from a turkey carcass, so you'd probably have enough for both a pan sauce and soup later on. I'd chill it and skim it for either pan sauce or later soup use, just to avoid greasiness.

                  2. A friend of mine used to put her turkey in the night before thanksgiving, at maybe 175 (I've never done it, nor seen or tasted it, btw), and take it out in the morning. I have no idea what she might've done about reheating it. Maybe they ate early.