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November 15, 2007



Have you come across The Pioneer Woman? She's just recently started her Thanksgiving prep posts at her cooking blog . I can't vouch for it (I don't know that I could _get_ a turkey that size before Christmas!), but it _looks_ fabulous!

(You should check out the photos at the main site... incredible!)


My Mom (and therefore, me, since she was my chef teacher lady) have always cooked our turkeys in Oven Bags and they are always moist and yummy. Whenever I've had a non oven bagged turkey at friends or whatever, I'm appalled at how dry and flavorless it is. The worst had to be the deep fried wild turkey, no amount of gravy could possibly moisturize that poor thing!
The only other good turkey I've turned out was a turkey breast in a foil packet on the aft deck grill.
What if you went with your preferred chicken recipe but used several smaller turkeys rather than one giant turkey?


I know Ukrops has it's own brand, but I don't know how local it is!
Also, turkey is typically dry if it is overcooked.
Eating Well has a yummy looking apple and shallot recipe:


and last year they had a herbal one:

while Marth Stewart had a brined turkey. Brined turkey is very good!

Hope one of these helps!


A free-range turkey will naturally be drier than the typical store-bought style turkey that have been injected with the sodium solution that is intended to keep tyhe meat moist. That is a fact that many people cannot accept and thus turn to away from free-range.

I don't mean to be offensive, Jennifer, but I've been a little afraid to try the oven bags since the idea of enveloping the food in plastic seem to me that it could make it tainted with chemicals (but maybe I'm paranoid ;)]. No doubt, though, that it is a moister turkey. Many of my friends swear by them.

The trick to the local organic turkey at our house is to cook the turkey breast down, covered tightly with foil (tent- don't let foil touch turkey). The juices run down into the breast and keep it tender. I also smother the breast completely in herbs and butter (can use oil) and truss. Cook it on a rack and add plenty of organic chicken stock in the bottom of the pan, or even better make your own giblet stock while you are preparing the turkey.

Once the turkey is nearly done (about 175 degrees or so), turn it over and uncover to let it brown. We love our natural turkeys!! Use that giblet stock for gravy!

Martha in VA

If you have any connections to Charlottesville, you could see if Horse & Buggy Produce (http://www.horseandbuggyproduce.com) has any turkeys left.


I know a family by Front Royal selling turkeys from their farm this year. Is that near you? Also the Weston A. Price Foundation has a D.C. area drop for free range turkeys where we're getting ours [http://westonaprice.org see "chapters". This is a great resource for real food.]This year we're doing a deep pit roast: literally done wrapped up and buried in the ground outside. My brother in law does it each year and I'm going to call him for the how-to. So moist and yummy!


"The Best Recipe" cookbook by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine has a wonderful recipe for brined roasted turkey. It is unique in that a 12-14 lb. turkey is rotated (breast down, side, side, then breast up), basted and finished in about 2 hours. Diced vegetables (aromatics) are roasted in the pan and used for the gravy. The only adjustment I make is to the salt brine. I reduce the amount of kosher salt by half and brine for at least 12 hours.

The recipe also includes a variation for a larger bird (18-20 lb.).

Happy Thanksgiving!


I grew up with bag roasted turkeys which were never dry. However, I have the same concerns with cooking in plastic and I don't know if my concerns are grounded or not. This year I did my first free range turkey and they are dryer because they aren't "pre-basted", but it wasn't really bad either. I cook on 325* for a long time instead of going higher for shorter like some recipes call for. Generally I half melt a stick of butter and mix in parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (no kidding) plus a bit of salt and pepper. I slather it inside, outside and under the skin of the breasts and legs/thighs. Most of the butter cooks out and a downfall of this is that you really need to put your gravy making in the fridge or freezer so that you can get all the fat to the top. It makes a delicious bird. I keep reading about brining and want to try that but have not yet. Maybe on the next bird. Also if you have a lot of dry white meat (i've never had dark meat be dry), it can be used in leftovers with a few tricks. For instance if you cut in smaller pieces in soup or casseroles (nothing like a big old hunk of dry meat you can chew on forever! lol) it's not so bad. I also use turkey breast for stir fry. I cut into stir fry sized pieces and marinate it in my soy/teriyaki sauce and cook it up separately, adding it to the stir fry at the end. I have to say that I am not one that thinks you can just throw in some substitute meat and it will taste good, but we were pleasantly surprised how well its taste went with the stir fry. Hope you can find something that works. You are getting lots of suggestions!

Barbara R.

Yesterday's Washington Post (11-14-07) has an article about butterflying turkeys, which is how I cook my roast chickens (on foil) on the grill. The article suggests that in addition to the whole bird cooking more quickly, the dark meat gets done closer to the same time as the white, giving it less of a chance to overcook and dry out.

My chickens are usually 8 pounds, but I think this could work well for a turkey if your grill or roasting pan is big enough. I've actually only cooked a few turkeys in my long life, because we go to my parents' house for Thanksgiving nearly every year. Such fun!

Heather Bress

I agree with you on the self-basting thing! I just posted my no-fail turkey recipe with tips here: http://bressfamily.typepad.com/thesethygifts/2007/11/lets-talk-turke.html it's the one I always gave out in my cooking classes. I use several of the techniques mentioned above (brining, cooking breast side down) and explain why. I hope it's helpful to you! Good luck finding a recipe you like.


I have always just cooked my turkeys breast side down and I stick pats of cold butter under the skin.(season as you like, I like McCormicks grill mates montreal chicken, I have got a lot of wonderful comments from it) I cover it with foil until the last hour.In the 15 years I have been making turkeys, I haven't had a dry one yet! It is nice when you don't have to constantly go into the kitchen to baste your bird! I hope this helps! Let us know how your turkey comes out!


Is there a Trader Joe's near you at all? They are offering naturally brined turkeys, I am going to try that this year, I will let you know how it goes!


Brine, brine, brine! It's all about the brine. Even a simple one - a combo of water, broth, even apple cider, some citrus of soup veggies and LOTS of Kosher salt. Boil it on Tiesday. Cool it completely. On Wednesday morning stick it and the turkey into an oven bag and then in a large soup or roasting pan (prevent leaks). Keep it in the fridge until T-day, when you rinse, pat it fry and cook. Start breast down. I've been doing this for several years and it hasn't failed me yet. Peace.


I just made the best and most moist turkey I have had! I seasoned it in salt, inside and out the day before, a brine would have worked too. After I cooked it at 425 with the breast down for an hour I flipped it, then I lowered the oven to 325 and finished it off until the thigh was at 175. Also, my pan had a rack so the air could circulate underneath. I didn't have to cover it or baste it. The salt tenderizes it and the high heat gets the browning process going and seals the juices. Cooking it upside down cooks the dark meat more evenly since it takes longer to cook. Science actually worked for me this time, I can't always say that about our experiments.

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