Decided to try a different turkey recipe than the one I’ve used for the past several years. The following recipe enticed me away from my tried and true. Choosing recipes entails using my vivid imagination and attention for details. As I peruse the ingredients, I can imagine the look and taste of the finished product. Hope I never lose this ability. It’s always served me well, for I’m inclined to try new recipes on guests. Talk about being fearless!
Looking through the brief instructions for the recipe I used, I could taste its magnificence, glazed to perfection, and succulent. I couldn’t resist replacing my usual way of cooking turkey, for this seemingly, old-fashioned, grandma-tested version. I’ve reprinted it below. See what you think.
EASY OVERNIGHT TURKEY (Easy for who? Zombies? I sure felt like one on Thanksgiving Day.)
1 20-pound hen turkey (Costco only had “toms,” so I went with that. Wasn’t about to drive around on icy roads, trying to chase down a “hen.”)
1/2 stick butter
1 large clove garlic, slivered
1 large peeled onion, quartered
l large unpeeled apple, quartered
Rinse turkey and wipe dry. Rub inside and out with half the butter. Place remaining butter inside cavity. Place garlic, onion and apple in cavity. Do not salt or pepper the bird. Place breast-side down on rack in roaster. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Turn bird on back and reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake, uncovered, without opening oven, for 10 to 12 hours. Serves 12.
(Stopped to give my fat cat, Juneau, a bear hug, so he’d stop nudging my hand as my fingers flew over the keys.)
I guess chefs follow recipes to the letter, at least the first time they try a new recipe. I’ m not a professional, just a basic cook. After 40 years of preparing meals, 3 times a day, 365 days a year, I tend to “wing it.” Unlike the early years of wedded bliss, when I cooked an entire meal before guests arrived, and reheated everything in the oven before serving them up. Talk about dried out food. Yikes!
Since I was prepping all the side dishes for overnight refrigeration, to be cooked after the turkey exited the oven the following day, I left “Tom” turkey to my husband. He attacked that bird with gusto! He even lay on the living room couch through the night, babysitting it as it baked. Funny thing, unlike me, my husband didn’t look like a zombie Thanksgiving Day.
The recipe indicated that the turkey should cook from 10-12 hours. Not having baked a 20-pounder before, we opted for the maximum amount of time. Not having a traditional roasting pan, the large oval ones specifically manufactured for the occasion, my husband made do with the pan that is usually part of a stove purchase. You know, it’s a combo square catch pan with a top that has slits in it. Food’s broiled on top, and the drippings seep through to the pan beneath. Anyway, the turkey fit in the catch pan, so we were good to go.
As we peered through the glass oven door, we beheld a glorious sight, a beautifully, browning turkey. We oohed and ahhed many times over the course of 12 hours. At some point, I wondered if we might recommit to a different cook time, maybe 10 1/2 or 11 or 11 1/2 hours. As the bird continued to deepen in color, I thought it might also be drying out. But, of course, not knowing what the pros know, we stayed our course.
About half-an-hour before dinner, my husband brought out the amazing cooked specimen, setting it atop the counter to “rest.” Then, while I finished baking the remaining dishes, he carved the turkey. It was more like a massacre. Poor, golden, sacrificial bird, it was chopped into smithereens. There were square chunks, rectangular slabs, strips of flesh, everything but nice, thin slices of meat. I was moved enough to vow that I’d carve next Thanksgiving. I hope my brain retains the slaughtered image until then.
So how did it taste? As dry as all those reheated meals I use to serve up in my 20’s. I cautioned our dinner guests to drown the meat in Costco’s delicious gravy. For those who didn’t, I’m not sure how they managed to swallow.
Next time we tackle this recipe, and believe me there’ll be a next time, I’ll try to find a hen turkey, bake it less than 12 hours, and carve it up myself. Oh, and we’ll buy a proper roasting pan, so we don’t wind up cleaning the oven again, because of overflowing juices. I’ll still let my husband help, prep the bird and babysit the thing overnight. We’ll do it just like the pros next time.
I’m open to suggestions, especially if you try this recipe and the results are scrumptious.