Like many others, this past Thursday, we prepped our Thanksgiving turkey and loaded him into the oven in plenty of time to allow the recommended 15-20 minutes per pound, plus resting and carving in order to have dinner ready at a respectable 5:30ish that evening.
Like previous years we brined it and then slathered it with an herbed butter and stuffed it’s cavity with onion, apple and lemon wedges, and in it went at precisely 11 a.m.
What was different this year? This year we got to use our 18-quart Roaster Oven. While we used it last Christmas for the duck and last Easter for the stuffed leg of lamb, this was it’s inaugural turkey and we were so excited to be able to have the oven free all day to use for side dishes and the like. From previous experience we thought the roaster ran a little hotter than a full-sized oven (we figured from the smaller space it had to heat and closer proximity of the food to the element) so we only heated it up to 325 to begin with, then decided to bring it down another 25 degrees when it continued to sizzle and pop (probably from the butter rub, but we wanted to be careful). We thought that would be enough to compensate.
(Hamilton Beach 18-Quart Roaster Oven via Amazon.com)
There I was, happily going about my comprehensive to-do list (a must, I’ve discovered, for stress-free party and holiday prep) and checking things off right and left as the turkey roasted. I peek in to make sure everything is going according to plan and…
The turkey? Our 16 pound turkey? Was done.
After only 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Sure, it wasn’t golden-brown and picturesque done, but it was most certainly done in the sense that the leg meat was starting to pull away from the bone. And, just to be certain, we checked it’s temperature–definitely done. In fact, we used 2 thermometers (1 dial, 1 digital) just in case one was off.
Nope. Stick a fork in it–that bird was done!
And we were still 3 hours away from dinner.
Now, you might wonder, as we did, what is the best way to proceed when you’ve got a cooked turkey that needs to be held 3 hours. First of all, letting it rest for so long wasn’t a good idea as it would have cooled down too far and spent too much time in the temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, where most of the icky bacteria thrives). Completely cooling it off and reheating it before supper was also dicey as we could end up with dry, mealy meat. Not a tasty treat!
Instead we opted to turn the roaster down to 200 and hold it there for most of the afternoon. This way the turkey would be kept plenty hot (and, yes, we checked periodically) but shouldn’t dry out. And it was a success, as far as we can tell (still hot and tasty at dinner and not a bit of it was dry).
Of course, I didn’t think to take a picture until after dinner, but the next day when I used our first bit of leftovers, I did sneak a quick shot of our brunch:
Between plenty of leftover turkey and the dozen egg whites I had after using the yolks in the pumpkin pastry cream for pies, I concocted this quick dish of Herbed Turkey Scramble.
Simple whisk together any available egg whites (you could easily use whole eggs, too, if you didn’t have spare whites) along with salt, pepper, sage, parsley and garlic powder and pour them into a hot frying pan. Cook until beginning to set then stir in diced turkey and crumbled cheese of your choice (we used farmer’s cheese). Serve with some Spiced Cranberry Sauce, another leftover.
Simple and delicious.