How to cook a turkey

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This lady is right. Turkey sucks. I’ve jumped through hoops trying to make it not suck. And over the years I’ve settled on “Put salt on that shit and put it in the fucking oven”. Though to be honest its a bit more complicated than that. Salt over night, or as much as 2 days. And I go real low on the oven, as low as 200f. Doesn’t seem to matter how low I go, turkey always seems to be done early provided I wake up by 8.

She got one problem though. Do not wash your poultry. Its completely unnecessary and its a big ole cross contamination risk. Basically spraying salmonella around your kitchen.


The Gods of pathogens and bacteria smile upon you.



  1. Turkey not fully cooked through and you are less than 1 hour to serving time? Pull from oven, cut off as many half-inch slices that can fit in one large pan, poach in dry white wine and/or good unsalted veg or chicken stock (salt toughens meat). Repeat until you have all the servings necessary, poached. Keep warm in 200°F oven in a covered baking dish greased with butter. Be sure meat is fully cooked through before plating. Arrange on your most beautiful platter, put a wee stripe of gravy on it, serve cheerfully and tell everyone at the table they are welcome to cook the turkey next year. You can deglaze the pan and make more gravy if needed.

  2. Turkey overcooked? Pull it out of the oven, pronto. The meat will continue to cook on the counter, even as you try to hasten the cooling process. If you are worried about dryness, and you have a Flavr-Injector® or whatever those hypodermic-looking syringes are, you can inject some unsalted poultry stock (with or without a few pats of melted unsalted butter, mixed) in the meat to keep it from drying out further. Don’t break the needle! Or slice it all and submerge it in gravy. Serve cheerfully and tell everyone at the table they are welcome to cook the turkey next year.

Dirty dishes? These are a good thing. It means you and yours have food and are eating well: something to be grateful for.


I’m not sure washing poultry is going to kill anything roasting won’t?

I actually enjoy turkey; and I agree with what this brilliant lady says; stop farting about and just cook it. I do mine breast down (I think the fat runs back into the bird that way), on a high temp, uncovered, with an onion up it.

Is that Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau?


Turkey is big. It’ll hold temp for a long time out of the oven (plus there’s carryover). Basically if it’s at 140 in the boob, its safe to eat if you let it rest.

Dark meat can be a bit unpleasant cooked that lightly, but the breast meat is pretty darn good.

Point being, if your turkey is under cooked by conventional wisdom. Well that’s the closest your going to get to palatable turkey.


Washing kills nothing. The issue with washing meat is cross contamination. If your turkey has some food borne illness going on, washing it basically just moves it around the kitchen. All them juices rinsed off the outside end up splashing around the sink and its bits. And apparently the running water can aerosolize it, allowing it to spread around the general vicinity of the sink. So your hands or anything that may be eaten raw or lightly cooked that make contact with any of that can carry salmonella to you and your guests.

At home this isn’t a HUGE risk. As with most cross contamination control issues. But it’s there. And washing the poultry does nothing. Its not removing anything, or making it cook better, or really anything. If you ask people in the habit of washing poultry (and its always poultry) they either don’t have an answer, or talk about a mythical “film” that must be removed from birds, or go on about cultural practices derived from X country where chickens are something something.

So just don’t do it. Washing poultry is pointless, it provides no benefit. So even if the risks are slim, there’s no reason not to avoid them.


I’ve been quartering turkey, letting it sit in salt for a few days in the fridge and smoking over fruit woods with a touch of mesquite and hickory. Tastes pretty good to me. Those damn things don’t cook well as a meat tube.


I’m not doing a turkey, I’m doing pig in a pumpkin.


Never underestimate cross contamination, take it from a employee of the Health Dept. If I had a dime for every case of cross contamination I’ve found I’d be a rich man.

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What sort of pumpkin did you end up with. Cause that article and every other one about cooking or stuffing pumpkins recommends sugar pumpkins. And those suck. Though honestly if you like Acorn squash you’ll like it just fine.

For future pumpkin needs I’d recommend cheese pumpkins, Hubbard squash, fairy tale and other assorted “french” pumpkins, Kobacha/Japanese pumpkins, and Jarrahdale. Blue/grey pumpkins are always tasty. Ugly pumpkins are almost always tasty. Avoid anything round and orange with defined ribs. Almost all of those are ornamental or derived from ornamentals. They’ll be the same species as zucchini, acorn squash, spaghetti squash etc. and at best they’ll taste more like those than what we think of as pumpkin. At worst they’ll be stringy as fuck and watery enough to taste like nothing.

Oh I spent 20 years in and out of the restaurant business. Starting as a cook when I was a teenager. I have literally thrown things at my mother for putting raw meat on the middle shelf of the fridge, over veg intended for a salad.

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I use them for a stuffed with a savory sausage, cook the sausage first, and then stuff with reckless abandon.


A little food industry work goes a long way to understanding better food storage / prep.
Happy to see you made it out alive.

I’m a pretty big fan of the classic cheese, bread, bacon and cream approach.

Sort of.

I’m currently working for a wholesaler.

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Alton Brown’s method makes a damn spectacular bird. It’s worth researching, and watching the thanksgiving Good Eats if you can dig it up.


I made [today] over sized muffins, and then I bake them again with any number of cheeses, the end result is a nice cheesy crust and a delicious cake like under belly.
It’s a real crowd pleaser…

I started sous videing the turkey a few years ago and I’m never looking back.

Butcher the bird, two airline breasts, and two leg thigh combos. I season all but one of the bags with garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme,and tarragon. The last bag of dark meat I season with garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy. Wings and neck I use to make Tom Colicchio’s gravy recipe. I use the carcass to make ramen stock. Sous videing takes 24 hours so you do everything the day before which makes TG day really easy. As soon as your side dishes are done, you take the turkey out of the bags and do what ever you want to crisp up the skin, torch, broiler, sear in cast iron, whatever. Leftover meat is good cold, basically like homemade deli meat.

When your sick of leftovers on Saturday or Sunday, heat up that ramen stock, mix in some miso, add some ramen eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago), roasted brussel sprout leaves, green onions and use the garlic ginger dark meat to make some turkey ramen.

None of it tastes like cardboard, this lady is crazy.

BBQ turkey ribs are also fucking amazing and taste nothing like cardboard, again, this lady is crazy. If you haven’t had BBQ turkey ribs, you’re getting your BBQ in the wrong part of town.

Last year we ended up with two turkeys. My sister was given a 16lb Bell and Evans by her work, and it wasn’t enough so we picked up an 18lb bird from the local farm we usually get them from as well. I took over our turkeys when I was 18, because I fucking hate turkey and wanted to produce something worth eating. And ever since mom has been trash talking about how she could do better (she can’t).

So with the two turkeys we had a Turkey off. She did the traditional roast, and since it was back up Turkey I got to do all the crazy stuff the family won’t allow me to.

Did a sous vide, deep fried turchetta, and confit legs (in bacon fat).

I won the turkey off. Still not allowed to break up the solo turkey this year.

If you’re not concerned about Norman Rockwell, the Turchetta is the best damn thing I’ve ever done with a turkey. And an excellent way to dunk on mom.


Put it in the oven upside-down for the first half; right-way up for the second half. This keeps some of the moisture in.

I’ve never had the bottle for sous vide. One of these days…

His spatchcocked turkey is delicious. I think the best turkey I’ve ever managed was the year I smoked it. All agreed the turkey was delicious but also wouldn’t stop botching about not being able to make gravy from the drippings. I haven’t cooked a turkey since. Now everyone wants to know when I’m going to do it again. Short answer, never.

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