How to Cook A Turkey

Back in the dark ages when I was a reporter at a local paper we (usually me and a photographer) would go to an elementary school and interview kindergarten children and ask them "How do you cook a turkey?" Their answers would leave you in stitches. So this year I decided to revive that tradition and ask HR people instead of 5-year-olds how to cook a turkey. There's a poll as well on your favorite method.


  • 12 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • My husband is in charge of the smoked turkey. We do a traditional and smoked. He first brines the turkey usually forgetting to take out the giblets. Now we have brined giblets. He charges up the smoker in the backyard. As this is November in the Northwest and we have an uncovered patio, it is probably raining, cold and windy. He puts up the portable canopy which promptly is lifted up by the wind and carried across the yard broken. (This has happened with two separate canopies) Now he is just out in the wind, cold, and rain and is dripping wet and cranky, but in the end we have a wonderful smoked turkey. I am of course dry and happy because I chose to cook the 2nd turkey in the oven.
  • I soak it all night in a brine solutions I saw on Good Eats (Food Network) and then cook for several hours in the oven. I assume that was what you meant by 'roasted' so I chose that answer. However, technically (remember how anal I am) it is not roasted. I cover it with foil except for the last 20 minutes. According to my trusty cookbook (Joy of Cooking) that is steaming, not roasting. :)
  • My husband is in charge of the turkey. I try not to watch. :p

    Some of the things he does to that bird drive me crazy.
  • My husband is in charge of the turkey also, although we both agree on the way to cook it. He puts it on to cook late the night before, lightly salted and brushed with canola oil, covered in tinfoil and with the oven set at a very low temperature. When we get up in the morning we baste it, turn the oven up a bit, and leave it uncovered so it can brown. It doesn't dry out, because it's been slow-cooked at a low temperature, and there's always plenty of liquid in the pan to baste it with.

    After 12 hours, our oven turns off automatically because it assumes that somebody has forgotten and left it on. It won't turn back on for an hour, but by that time the turkey is already cooked nicely so it's just a matter of keeping it warm until dinnertime (we usually eat at 2:30 or so).
  • I am starting to get really really hungry for turkey.
  • We have a contest each year and have two types of turkey -- one is the traditional roasted turkey and the other is "trash can turkey" cooked outside over charcoals in an upside down trash can. They are both delicious!
  • My mom makes a great turkey in the oven. This year will be the first time in years I'm not going to be with my mom and her family for Thanksgiving. While I'm sad I won't be seeing them, I will be with my boyfriend and his family. He deep fries a turkey and assures me it will blow all other turkey experiences out of the water. I'm up for the challenge.
  • I voted for the roasted turkey (I also brine mine, it makes such an amazing difference), but I will also admit to being very torn between the traditional roasted experience and the deep fried turkey. Deep frying really does create a phenomenal and positively succulent bird. I just personally can't ever get up the gumption myself to actually prepare one that way.

    So if I'm the one cooking it, it's going to be roasted. But if there's a deep fried turkey on the table, I'll gladly eat it!
  • Smoked is the way to go. My father started smoking the turkeys several years ago, and the family decided we can't go back to the standard oven method.

    Here's the "lazy bachelor" version of turkey I fixed for my department's Thanksgiving potluck last year:

    I took a whole turkey and cut it in half. Covered the outside with coarse salt and pepper (be sure to season under the skin as well). Put it in the oven for a couple of hours. Then I shredded the meat and put it in a crock pot and covered it with plain old jarred turkey gravy. I let it cook overnight.

    It turned out pretty tasty. Not Mom's turkey, mind you, but it works for an easy way to have Thanksgiving turkey if you don't have a family meal.
  • For those of you frying a turkey, here's public service announcement:


    (Is it just me or does this Cobb County, Georgia, fireman sound like he's from Boston . . . or somewhere up north?)

    Here's another tale of a fried turkey gone wrong:

    (My favorite is when the guy filming says "I don't think that's working . . .whoaaaaa boy!")
  • I was formerly HR Manager for a couple of Home Depot stores, and we had turkey-frying demonstrations in the week before Thanksgiving and again the week before Christmas. If you ever have an opportunity to watch someone who knows what they are doing, it sure makes it a lot easier when you try it yourself.
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