There is one thought running through my mind right now. It is so unlike me to post a large picture of meat on the front page of my blog. I don’t eat red meat, and prefer fish to poultry most of the time. But don’t get me wrong, I love a good turkey sandwich and the taste of a freshly baked turkey in contrast with ubiquitous deli meat. And, it definitely isn’t like me to post pictures of raw meat, which would probably help illustrate the 5 steps it took me to make my very first turkey a few weeks ago. But, I spared you those pictures I took just in case I would need them. Let’s just say they were not appetizing, and they were not even close to being artistic.
Why had I never made a turkey before? Maybe it’s the fact that to get a cooked turkey, it must first be handled in its raw state–a sight that causes me to have a physical reaction that is squinting as to only see what is absolutely necessary to complete the task at hand. (Think the love-hate relationship that those of us with weak stomachs have when watching a gory scene on Grey’s Anatomy). Or, maybe cooking a turkey seemed like a time-consuming, daunting task that I wasn’t ready to tackle. There are a few things I’ve held off on learning how to make in the kitchen for fear of the unknown (tofu being one of them, and I must say I faced this fear tonight and dominated!).
Just like riding a bike, people may decide to face challenges when the time is right. My time for making a turkey came a few weeks ago on a still, cold, dreary Sunday in Austin. I conceived a plan that consisted of purchasing a turkey, putting on sweats, and catching up on things at home while my turkey baked the afternoon away so I would have meals, or at least part of them, taken care of for most of the week.
The plan went as scheduled, except for the part where I had to visit Central Market after I went to HEB only to find they didn’t have any fresh, natural turkeys in stock. For other amateur turkey makers out there, a fresh turkey is one that is not frozen. Finding a fresh turkey was crucial in my day-long mission since there would be no time to defrost a turkey, bake it, and eat it for dinner before the night came to a close. I ended up with a 12-pounder that was both fresh and natural (no added chemicals or hormones). It was the perfect amount to get me through several lunches and dinners that week.
So, without further ado, here’s a 5-step easy turkey recipe. Make it for friends, family, or dinner guests.
- Purchase foil turkey pan and turkey (you choose the size for both)
- Remove the insides of the turkey, rinse under water, pat dry with paper towels. (leave the metal or plastic pieces holding the turkey together in place)
- Fill the inside of the turkey with a sliced orange and a sliced lemon. (The acid cooks out from the inside and provides for delicious flavor)
- Place turkey in the pan, legs facing down, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with desired spices. (I used garlic powder with parsley, paprika, and pepper)
- Bake at 325 covered with foil for 2 hours, then remove foil for a golden brown outside for the remainder of baking time. Bake until the plastic thermometer pops up. (For my 12 pounder, it took 3.5 hours)
Let the turkey sit once you remove it from the oven for 30 minutes- 1 hour so the flavor is locked in before carving. Then gobble it up! Here’s a video by the Food Network‘s Alton Brown on how to carve a turkey since this can be the trickiest part of the process.
So I made a 12 pound turkey, now what??
A few ideas:
- Serve with cranberry sauce and make an off-season Thanksgiving dinner.
- Make turkey tacos/fajitas. Let your guests make their own by providing the tortillas and desired add-ons (tomatos, avocados, salsa, cheese, lettuce, queso). My family likes to make chile con queso to accompany fresh turkey. (In El Paso, we spice everything up!)
- Put it on salads or make sandwiches or wraps with any goodies you choose for a tasty, protein-packed lunch.