Thanksgiving Turkey.

Does it have you freaking out?

Fear not! Here at Idiot’s Kitchen we have the one and only Idiot-Proof Turkey Method.

No fussing. No basting. Just put it in the oven and come back a few hours later to find a beautiful, golden, tasty bird.

All compliments of the Turkey Cooking Bag.

My parents have cooked their Thanksgiving Turkeys this way for as long as I can remember. However, when I did a little non-scientific survey recently, no one had ever made turkey in a bag.

It’s easy and you’ll have the juiciest turkey you’ve ever eaten. Seriously, I had LEFTOVER juice from the turkey….even after making a boatload of gravy.

So, don’t freak out. Here’s what you need:

Turkey! Celery, Onion, Flour, Pepper, Butter (not pictured), 1 Reynold’s Turkey Size Oven Cooking Bag, a very large pan with high sides.

Click HERE for a Handy-Dandy Shopping List

Let’s talk turkey….I have a big old bird here – 20 pounds – because I love turkey and I REALLY love turkey leftovers. I also bought a fancy-pants organic, hormone free, free-range, happy (at least when it was alive) turkey. You don’t have to go for the same bird, however I would highly encourage you to look at the lable and DO NOT BUY a turkey that has been injected with a bunch of junk.

You don’t need butter flavor. You don’t need extra turkey seasonings.  Buy a plain bird and season it yourself. Most of those other birds also have added water and sodium to plump them up. Who needs that?

I tend to buy fresh (not frozen) turkeys because I have a small refrigerator and not a lot of space to allow the thing to thaw safely. However, if you have a frozen bird, just be sure to allow ample time (days) in the fridge for it to thaw.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take your turkey to the sink and remove the little bag of giblets or parts. You can keep these for giblet gravy if that’s your thing, cook them for the cats, save them for stock, whatever you’d like. We won’t need them for this recipe.

I also like to remove this little plastic thing that is holding the legs together. I prefer to tie the legs with string rather than bake plastic inside my Thanksgiving dinner.

Also take a look inside the cavity of the bird and remove the neck and any other parts that might be lurking in there.

Run lots of cold water over and inside the turkey to give it a good rinse.

Remember that you, your sink, and everything you touch now has raw poultry cooties. Be sure to wash your hands, wash your sink, wash your cutting board, wash your counter tops, wash your hands again.

Pat the bird dry with a few paper towels. Spread a little softened butter over the top of the bird and over the legs. Give it lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Personally, I don’t like to cook my turkey with stuffing. I like crispy stuffing or dressing cooked outside of the  bird. However, to add just a bit more flavor, take a couple of stalks of celery and an onion, cut them into big hunks and stuff them inside the turkey.

No need to fill it all the way up, just add a couple of stalks and about 1/2 a medium onion.

Take a bit of cooking twine (clean string that hasn’t been out in the garage) and tie up the legs. This isn’t absolutely necessary but sure makes putting the bird in the bag a lot easier.

Take your magic cooking bag and add 2 Tablespoons of flour to the bag.

Give it a good shake to distribute the flour all around the bag.

Place your bag in an extra large cooking pan. Be sure to pick one with high sides since this turkey will create a ton of juice as it cooks. I use the cheap aluminum pans from the store. Just be sure to put the aluminum pan on a sheet pan for extra support on the bottom.

Now might be a good time to enlist the help of a strong person. Lift up your big old bird and slide it into the cooking bag breast side up.

If you have any extra pieces of onion or celery, put them inside the bag around the edges of the turkey.

Using the little twist tie provided with the cooking bag, cinch up the bag and seal up the turkey.

Use a small sharp knife and cut 6 little slits into the top of the bag.

Carefully move the turkey to the 350 degree oven. Use a rack in the bottom of the oven so that there is plenty of room for the heat to move around the turkey and the cooking bag isn’t touching a rack or the sides of the oven.

There is a handy instruction guide that comes with the cooking bags. It will give you a time frame for cooking your turkey. My 20 pound turkey will cook for 3 to 3-1/2 hours on 350 degrees.

My turkey also has one of those little pop up thermometers. Very handy. The turkey is done when it is golden brown, when the internal temperature is 180 degrees and when the juices from the bird are clear.

See how easy this is. No basting with that weird bulb shaped thing. Just keep an eye on the time so you’ll know when to start checking the pop up timer or internal temperature.

Honestly, your nose will tell you when it’s done.

Like other meat, it is best if you allow the turkey to rest to allow the juices to reabsorb into the meat. This will make carving the turkey easier and give you a nice juicy bird.

Carefully cut the bag down the center. Steam will release from the bag so be careful not to burn yourself.

Remove the turkey leaving the juices in the bottom of the pan. I like to use a huge mixing bowl so that I can catch any extra juices that run out of the turkey. If you have a giant cutting board, that will work too. Cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Smells like Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house!

Tomorrow – gravy and sage dressing.

Go buy a turkey and a cooking bag so you can rock the house this Thursday!

Here’s the Recipe!

Idiot-Proof Turkey

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