The turkey. The part of the meal that sent me into fits of nervous breakdowns every time it entered my mind. What if I messed up? What if it was too dry? What if it wasn't cooked through and we carved into raw bird? what if...What If....WHAT IF?!?!?!?
Remember in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswold is carving the absolutely divine looking turkey, only to carve into a bird so dry that it just, deflates, in front of their eyes? Yeah, my husband was teasing me all week that he thought that's how things were going to turn out for me. Thanks for easing my nerves hon...
ps. thankfully it turned out nothing like that, and actually quite juicy and moist!
Ummmm....so I really had no reason to worry because this was probably the easiest part of preperation all day. Seriously. Except for the fits of nervous what if's that I would periodically go into during the cooking. But those were completely unnecessary. Because it turned out wonderfully. I mean, isn't she (wait. are turkey's male or female? Are they one of those animals like the rooster that only come in male form? No. It must be female, because turkey's have breasts. Or, no? I'm so naive...) beautiful?
Ignore my terrible photography skills...I didn't think to take a picture until we were halfway through the carving. So I only had half a bird to work with...
Here's a walk through, so you don't have (multiple) nervous breakdowns like I did. Because really, it's not that hard. Really.
First, you need an oven bag, some flour, a little butter (or oil), an apple and a roasting pan.
How long your turkey needs to thaw out depends on it's weight, mine was 20 pounds, and I gave it 7 days in the refrigerator. You need to allow one day per 4 pounds of turkey for thawing time.
Once the turkey is thawed out, take it out of the bag and be sure to pull the bags out from inside the turkey. THERE ARE TWO!! One is in the neck and the other in the rear. Be sure to get them both or you will have not so good tasting turkey. Drain the liquid from insde the turkey, and pat the outside dry. Using a basting brush, cover the outside of the turkey with the butter or oil. Place the whole apple inside the rear of the turkey.
Next, get your oven bag out and place two tablespoons of flour inside. Hold the top shut and shake to evenly coat the inside of the bag. Place the turkey in the oven bag and secure the bag shut with the clasp provided. Place in the roasting pan and cut six 1/2 inch slits in the bag. Bake at 350 until the timer method you choose says the bird is done.
You have two options for knowing when the turkey is done. The first way is to use an oven safe meat thermometer. Place the thermometer in the thigh, and when it reads 180 degrees, your bird is done. Your other options is one of those pop up timers that you can buy just about anywhere this time of year, placed in the breast of the turkey. I chose the latter option.
According to all of the reasearch I had done, a 20 pound bird is supposed to take 3 to 3 1/2 hours to completely cook. Mine was perfectly done in 2 1/2 hours. So I would strongly suggest using either timer method and not just cooking the recommended time so you know when it's done. Once the bird has fully cooked, let it cool slightly before carving, and then enjoy!
Just a side note, you can choose to stuff your turkey with dressing. I chose not to do this, so I'm not able to give any tips on this method. But from what I understand you just put the stuffing in the place of the apple, but your cooking times will vary as opposed to an unstuffed turkey.
Good luck and breathe! It's way easier than everyone makes it out to be!