Our first married Thanksgiving, Nathan and I decided to host the holiday dinner at our house. It was a somewhat daunting task, but it turned out wonderful and we had a blast doing it. I guess it may have become a tradition, because we hosted it again our second year of marriage which was this past Thanksgiving (which also turned out well, even if a bit more eventful with the marshmallow fire on the sweet potatoes!).
Nathan’s company gives out turkeys for Christmas and so we had yet another turkey in the freezer that I decided we should use last weekend before it went past it’s prime. Call us silly, but we are a little ridiculous when it comes to deciding if something should be eaten or not; Nathan is in the habit of throwing out perfectly good items from the refrigerator without even looking at the date or knowing when it was opened. I will not use something past the date. I don’t care if the particular item is supposed to be fine longer than that, I’m not going to risk it. Also, if cheese gets moldy, we don’t just cut off the bad part and continue using the rest like many people do; it all goes in the trash. We are not wasteful people, just very squeamish about such things. Anyways, I said all that to say that I didn’t know how long the turkey would last in the freezer so I decided to use it just because (it was small, so we decided not to serve it to company so we could use the leftovers another way).
So Friday night I sweet-talked Nathan into cleaning the turkey for me (actually, I just asked…he’s awesome about helping me with most everything) because there are few things more disgusting to me than cleaning a nasty bird and grabbing the neck and giblets out of the inside of the thing. See, I’m not a real chef. As if you were wondering.
I always have him clean the thawed bird in very cold sea salt water a few times changing the water each time (like Grandma taught me), and then let it soak for about an hour or so. I told someone the other day that I have never used a brine in any recipe, but I take that back. I suppose this simple salt water solution is considered a brine. After it has finished soaking, he rinses the bird one last time and I let it air dry a few minutes before prepping it.
1 Reynolds oven bag
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Turkey, well-cleaned and air-dried a few minutes
1 Orange, quartered with peel
10 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
3 Bay Leaves
½ cup Butter
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, loosely-packed
1 cup Orange Juice
1 teaspoon Sage
1 teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Pepper
Preheat the oven to 350. Put the flour in the oven bag and shake until bag is coated. Cut 6 slits in tope of oven bag as directed on box. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. When melted, add sugar and stir until smooth. Add orange juice and bring to a boil. Stir in spices. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Divide glaze in half.
Pour one half of glaze over bird evenly. Close bag with a tie included with the oven bags. Make sure bag is tucked well into
Place turkey in the oven for one hour at 350. Reduce heat to 200 degrees. Roast turkey for 4-6 hours depending on the size of the bird. A meat thermometer inserted in the thigh must reach 180 degrees. Return oven temperature to 350, remove bird from oven, cut bag completely open,
tucking bag under the bird. Pour remaining glaze over turkey, return to oven and roast 30 minutes longer.
Remove turkey, cover tightly with foil and towel, allowing bird to “rest” 30 minutes. Carve and enjoy!
This is only the third turkey I’ve ever prepared, but I’m convinced that slow-roasting turkey in a bag is the only way to do it in the oven; the meat is unbelievably juicy and tender, plus if you’re stuffing the bird with aromatic fruit and herbs, the flavor is incredible!
It’s kind of funny to me because I’m one of those people who NEVER microwaves food under Saran wrap due to the known harmful effects of ingesting food that’s been warmed this way, but I will cook a turkey for hours in a plastic cooking bag. Hmmm… I’m thinking my logic is faulty, but I figure we only do this once or twice a year, so what can it hurt?
I should mention that the FDA urges people to roast their turkeys at no less than 325 degrees. I know, I know. I should heed that advice. But this is the way my grandma roasts her turkey every single year and has never had anyone get sick from it. And if you ask a lot of people, they will tell you that they slow-roast their turkeys because they are so much better! Plus, the hour at the beginning on 350 does much to kill any bacteria. So, now that you’ve not only decided that you will not try this recipe for fear of food poisoning, you’ve also come to the conclusion that reading this post was a waste of time since I don’t follow the FDA guidelines (just on this one particular detail!).
This was the first time I glazed my turkey and it was delicious. Opening up the bag at the end and pouring more glaze on created a nice, flavorful coating. It wasn’t quite as crispy as I had hoped, however it was delicious. And that part was experimental anyways.
I love trying new ideas and creating my own recipes, and this one was a definite success.
Next recipe post: a twist on an old-fashioned recipe for turkey leftovers!