There are lots of different turkeys out their and its not easy to decide which one to buy, I have bought almost every kind there is in the past 40 years and I buy what ever the store has the cheapest. And never have been unhappy with it.
There are lots of people scare you about how properly thaw out a turkey and there are many ways to do it. I like my way and though it probably would be debated I have done it for over forty years and its always worked.
I buy a big pail, you can buy big pails from most any grocery store that has a bakery, ask at the bakery department if they have any pails, usually they only cost a couple of bucks. They have large pails they get shortening in, and other
baking products. It must be a big enough pail so the turkey will fit completely in it, and cover completely with cold water. I sit mine in the bath tub right under the tap and fill it full of cold water. I do this the night before I want to bake it. I put mine in before I go to bed, and then when ever I get up to use the bathroom, I turn the cold water on and let it run into the pail for awhile. Now if you sleep until noon, this may not be the way for you, but if you rise at a normal time in the morning it will be fine. Once you get up remove the turkey from the water and place it in your refrigerator until you are ready to prepare it to bake.
I recommend cooking your turkey in a backing bag. They cut down on the cook time and seem to leave the turkey juicier. Just be sure to buy a turkey size bag. Take a few minutes to read through the instructions that come with the cooking bag they are very good. There is an easy to read chart that will give you cooking times based on the size of the turkey. Once you know how
long it will take to cook you’ll be able to determine what time you should start getting it ready for the oven so it will be done about the time you want to eat. Allow yourself at least an extra 30 minutes to get the turkey ready.
Place the turkey in your sink (be sure to clean you sink well first with good soapy water.) Wash the outside and inside of the turkey with water (no soap.) When you first start to work with washing your turkey it may still have some frozen ice in it, thats a good thing, just use warm water to melt it as you are cleaning it. Inside the turkey you will find the parts of the turkey we call giblets make sure you check both the body and the neck cavity as they are often stuffed in both places. Set these aside until your turkey is washed. There may be some odds and ends of missed pieces inside so just pull out anything that looks like you might not want to eat it, its all meat, but I like to know exactly what type of meat I am eating. Once you pull out anything that looks like it might not belong in there it will look quite clean inside. Be sure to wash under the skin of the neck. I don’t like the tail left on, so I cut it off. Some people eat it, but not at my house. Once your turkey is washed it is now ready for stuffing.
If you are going to stuff the turkey do it now just before putting it in the oven. We like the ready make stuffing mixes, so that is what I use. There are lots of recipes for stuffing, but if this is your first turkey , Id go with the boxed.
Use the recipe on the box to mix it together. The stuffing will cook inside the turkey so you can just stuff it in the turkey instead of really cooking on the stove. Before you place your turkey in the baking bag salt and pepper the outside of your bird or it will be hard to do once it is in the bag. Also put about 3 tablespoons of flour in the bag and shake it around before you put the turkey in it. Be sure to place your turkey bag on a sheet that has a little side to it, I use the bottom of the broiler pan that comes with your stove. If you don’t have a broiler pan a cookie sheet will work. Once your stuffing is ready place the turkey in the baking bag front (neck) in first then stuff the dressing into the bird. Your turkey is now ready for the oven. It will turn out great.
Remember to poke a couple whole in the top of the bag to vent it.
By the way if you like to make gravy, there will be lots of juice in the bag for that. Have someone help you drain it into a pan, tilt the turkey to one side so the juice moves itself to one end of the bag, then simply snip the plastic corner and let the juice flow into a pan. I like to buy a couple of turkey gravy mixes at the store to add to the drippings it will give you twice as much gravy and taste will be great. If you use the gravy mixes you won’t have to add any more thickening. It will thicken on its own. Add the water that the gravy mix calls for to the juice. You can also use canned chicken broth if you want instead of water. When you make your dressing using chicken broth will give it more flavor too. If you need to thicken the gravy more, use a couple tbsp.
flour mixed with enough water to make a thin paste, add a bit at a time until gravy reaches the thickness you want. Of course if it gets to thick just add more liquid.
Ooops!! I kind a forgot about the gibbets (thats those pieces you took out of the turkey while you were washing it, if you know someone who likes them then bake them with the turkey, wash them. you can place them in the baking bag too, or wrap them in tin foil and bake them. I rather just throw them and tell dad the turkey didn’t come with them. You’d be surprised to find that a lot of them get baked inside the turkey, because they aren’t found. They are
there you just have to look inside the turkey, also don’t forget they can be inside the neck. They like to hide maybe for a good reason. Ha.