Thanksgiving Turkey – make it easy
So you are a bit nervous about putting that whole bird in the oven. You might wonder:
- When do you take it out?
What temperature do you cook it?
How do I know if it is overcooked or pink?
Do I stuff it?
Do I brine it?
All of those are great questions, and if you only cook turkey once a year, then lets make this year’s turkey easy for you.
First – the best way, the most reliable way, to cook turkey is by the Sous Vide method. But, if you just don’t want to do that here is what you do.
First – don’t cook the whole bird. You don’t cook a whole cow. It is too large an animal, and there won’t be any reliable heat source putting that entire bird in an oven (sorry mom) .
“Dad, they cut up the Turkey.”
See what JJ discovered — someone already carved the turkey. You don’t have to – and when it is cut up like this it is easier to cook, more reliable to cook, and shorter cooking times.
From our local Whole Foods, or any butcher, you can get the individual half breasts, thighs, and drum sticks. No one likes a particular cut of meat, you don’t have to do it.
So go to the store, or the butcher, and get the pieces that you want.
Now you have smaller bits of turkey that you can easily handle. Speaking of which – suppose you already ordered your turkey. What do you do? Well, you can either butcher it into individual parts or you can Splatchcock it.
Removing the backbone out of the turkey is as simple as removing it from a chicken. Just use some good scissors up either side of the backbone. You can toss the backbone or you can use it to make soup.
This is the bird, any bird- with the back bone removed and flattened. Oh yes, I put some weight on this to flatten it.
After the backbone is out- take a clean town and use your weight and mighty arms to flatten the turkey or chicken as much as you can.
Now individual pieces can go into an oven safe pan.
Take the individual pieces of turkey – put them into an oven safe pan – or even in the large roasting pan.
What about brine? Don’t. You don’t need to. I do recommend dry the skin with a paper towel. Salt the skin generously – and either cook then or let it sit in the refrigerator.
How to cook this turkey?
Middle rack of the oven
450 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then take it out and check the temperature. It may not be the right internal temperature of 150 degrees but turn the oven to 350 degrees for another 20 minutes.
This is how to cook a turkey and make it easy.
Of course if you have it in a roasting pan, or an oven safe pan you can make the most incredible gravy (see terrysimpson.com for that recipe).
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.