Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cooking Turkey for Chickens! A Two-Part Thanksgiving Turkey Tutorial

By knowing just a few basic tricks, you can guarantee yourself a moist, delicious, and beautiful Thanksgiving turkey every time. The two videos posted below were done last year, and according to the many emails and comments I got, they proved very helpful to lots of your fellow foodwishers.

If you don't have one, make sure you buy a meat thermometer before thanksgiving. They're only a few dollars, and on Thanksgiving at least, it's the most important tool in the kitchen. Other than that, these turkey and sauce techniques don't require any special skills or equipment, and you probably have everything you need
already.

As I said in the original post, with these videos you can proceed with confidence, joy, and the knowledge that since you are cooking the turkey you won't have to wash any dishes! See you on the couch. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Turkey Part 1: Prepping and Roasting



Thanksgiving Turkey Part 2: It's All About the Gravy



To get the ingredients, use these links from the originals posts for Part 1: Prepping and Roasting and Part 2: Making the Gravy.

80 comments:

Brian said...

Chef John, this looks FANTASTIC. My partner and I are doing a turducken this year, but we'll definitely use this recipe next time we do turkey. Fantastic! Thank you for posting!

Alex said...

looks so simple and easy to make. and what did you do with the liver?

Chef John said...

not saying.... but it did NOT go in the gravy or dressing!

fluffy said...

I was going to do Cook's Illustrated's salt-roasted turkey recipe, but then you went and posted this and now I am sure this is what I'll be doing instead. Looks a lot less fiddly and a lot tastier.

Jackie Reynolds said...

Wow, this looks so great!
Do you ever brine your turkey?
I assume you make the dressing separately. I would love to do it this way but my family thinks the dressing should be stuffing inside the turkey.
I AM NOT AFRAID OF MY FAMILY--I WILL DO IT THIS WAY!!! I AM NOT AFRAID OF MY FAMILY (did I say that already)?

Anonymous said...

We prepared this for guests tonight. It was great as usual! We have been using your method on turkeys since last Thanksgiving and we recommend it highly. There are always many compliments from family and friends. Thanks for letting us in on your "secrets"!

Chef John said...

jackie read this http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/a/Cooking_Turkey.htm

anon, thanks!

geli-pet said...

hey! i love your blog... :D

i'm sending you an award. check it out: http://geli-pet.blogspot.com/2009/11/pacquiao-cotto-and-mermaid.html

Chef John said...

thanks!

andy said...

This is really good thanks a lot fo rhtis

SethG said...

Thanks Chef! I have to ask a stupid question that I've been wondering since the original post last year: what's the music? Gotta get that.

bertone10 said...

Any thoughts on using something similar for chicken?

Chef John said...

yes, take a look at older videos for chicken, I've done the same.

Chef John said...

just a clip from iMovie called Buddy

Andrew and Liz Orton said...

i LOVE your blog. Do you have any tips on stuffing the turkey?

Chef John said...

yes, don't! read this http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/a/Cooking_Turkey.htm

Broklynite said...

As for basting- I baste roughly every 20-30 minutes, and I've never once had a dry turkey. Seems to work for me, so I won't argue.

For gravy, my family has a tendancy to avoid eating most organs, so we use a non-giblet gravy. I take the juice from the turkey and put it into a sauce pan with a little heat. Add to it a little flour (depending on the amount of juice- usually a tablespoon or so) then add milk- roughly 3-4 times the volume of the juice. When you taste it, all you'll taste is the milk, but as you heat it, the turkey flavor comes through beautifully and you're left with a delicious, creamy gravy with that strong turkey flavor you want.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that turkey looks awesome! I will definitely give this recipe a try.

By the way, I like your blog!

Alisa said...

Hi Chef John! This is my first celebrity fan mail...your blog is the best!!

I was wondering though, because this has been the only time I was skeptical of your ingredients, do you really recommend the Chinese 5 spice for the turkey? I guess I'm just nervous about the Asian-y flavor being discordant with the fresh herbs.

Chef John said...

u can leave out if you're scared, tastes are subjective, but it's only a pinch for a big bird.

James Redway said...

Hey Chef John,

Your blog is the best. If this stupid economy gets better I will contribute... honest. Everyone should send something to the chef, it is well worth it, and he deserves it. Its not easy to do what Chef John does. His dedication to this site, along with his great sense of humor, his expertise, his knowledge, his wisdom, not to mention great recipes, screams out that we should all be donating. I will, I promise.

I just wanted to know if you folks in California stuff your turkeys like we do in New England? I am sure you do. But, have you ever cooked a chestnut dressing (stuffing)? Chestnuts make the stuffing. We make one along with sausage and the regular stuff and it is excellent. It is a classic New England stuffing. We actually roast the chestnuts on top of our wood stove, not the open fire as the song goes. It is the best Thanksgiving dressing New England can offer. Just want to know whether or not you have ever tried it?

Your site is a gift to all those on the Internet, who like to cook and eat, and you bring a smile to my family every time we access your site. In a world where stress is high everywhere, foodwishes.com is the oasis in the desert of negativity. Your diligent efforts in a positive direction make the world a much happier place.

Thanks again.

James From Connecticut

Wes said...

I was watching a video of Anthony Bourdain cooking a turkey, and he mentioned that garlic should go no where near a turkey. He did, however, use tons of butter, and simple salt/pepper seasoning. Why wouldn't someone use garlic?

Chef John said...

taste is subjective, there is no right or wrong

Emma said...

Thanks great simple instructions. How many people would you say this gravy would be enough for?

Chef John said...

maybe 6-8

Anonymous said...

This is my fist thanx giveing that im makeing my self for the fam and im going to use your vedio wish me luck thanx

scallywag said...

It was great, I used green onions, garlic, cumin, zest of orange, s&p for my compound butter... turned out pretty nice, the breast did come out a little dry but gravy fixes all :D now it's time for turkey sandwiches tomorrow!

Stu said...

first time cooking a turkey and I'm following your recipe. I cooked your ginger/basil salmon about 20 times and everyone loved it.

Thanks for posting easy to follow recipes I have all the ingredients i'm waking up early this morning to make it haha

happy thanksgiving !

Matthew said...

Great recipe and I'm going to make it tomorrow

I wonder will the butter in the Turkey get burnt though, I'm a little be worried.

sisi said...

This is my second time using this recipe for Thanksgiving. The turkey is right now in the oven cooking. So wonderful. I love the rich taste of it. Thank you so much.

Jenna said...

Chef John, just had to say thanks again for posting your turkey vids. After years of trying different recipes (with varying degrees of success), yours will be my go to from now on. It really was fabulous. Moist and flavorful (yes, flavorful turkey, who knew?) and EASY. I even got a compliment from my totally non-foodie bf as he was carving..."Oh, what's that under the skin. Herb butter? Wow, that looks really nice. *pops a pc into his mouth* Hm...that tastes REALLY good too."

You rule.

Sam Boy said...

Thanks a lot Chef..!! I cooked the turkey y'day for the first time and it was perfect..!!!!!! Everyone said it was really good..!! thanks a lot chef..!!! Merry christmas..!!! :)

Dan and Hilary said...

Hi Chef John,

Getting geared up for Turkey day here.

Quick question, do you deglaze your roasting pan for the gravy? Or is it to greasy.

Big fan(and vicariously, so is my wife!), will try your bird and gravy method this year! Just got a new job, will try my best to remember my favorite chef this holiday, take that recession!

Chef John said...

Thanks! Sure you can deglaze. just pour off the grease, and add the liquid. Also, you can always skim the fat off the top of the simmering gravy anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Thanks so much for all the great tips and recipes!

I wanted to ask...I found a recipe that puts herbed butter underneath the skin of the turkey. My question is...could I still bake the turkey breast side down for the first bit and then flip or is it better to just bake it breast side up through the whole process?

Anonymous said...

Chef John,

Wow...I just realized the herbed butter I was thinking about was yours. I've been looking at dozens of thanksgiving tips and recipes, I'm getting them all mixed up. Yours is by far the best!

Thanks again!

Chef John said...

with this, all the way up. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Chef, how do you prepare the herb butter?

fluffy said...

This worked out so well last year that I'm doing it again this year. It also took way too long for my social circle to decide where the hell we'd have Thanksgiving this year so I went ahead and just said "Let's have it at my place again," because it means I can make the turkey! Yay!

Sarah said...

Hi Chef John!
I was wondering how long I am supposed to simmer the stock for. Thanks!

Chef John said...

2 hours or so

B Rodge said...

Chef John,
Please don't take this blog off of the internet because I refer to it every time I do a Turkey. It has been the best recipe I have found in years. I'm still perfecting the gravy but the turkey always turns out spectacular. Thanks.

kan.vlad said...

Chef John,
I tried your turkey receipt last year and turkey was perfect! This year we bought 24 pound turkey. How do you recommend to prepare turkey of this size? Thanks!

Chef John said...

same way! just cook longer of course, thanks!

Ryan said...

Thanks for posting your recipe. I like the compound butter idea. We did a test turkey with a few modifications to your recipe and it turned out amazing. We brined the turkey in:
* 2 gallon water
* 2 cup kosher salt
* 4 tablespoons honey
* 24 bay leaves
* 1 cup garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
* 4 tablespoons black peppercorns
* 1 ounce ( 3 large) of rosemary sprigs
* 1 ounce (1 large bunch thyme sprigs)
*4 ounces (1 large bunch) Italian parsley sprigs
* Grated zest and juice of 4 large lemons
We cooked the brine first for 2 minutes at boiling let it cool threw the turkey and 5 cups of ice in a bucket and let the turkey brine in the solution outside covered for 48 hours. We then rinsed the turkey well and dried the turkey with a cloth and followed your recipe from there. We subbed dry white wine for water in the roasting pan and cooked at 315 instead of 325. We omitted the sage and used lemon zest thyme and rosemary for our compound butter. Thanks for the tips the bird was singing and oh so juicy. I always dread eating turkey because its so dry. This time the juices were flowing evenly through the meat.

Emily said...

Thanks so much for this video. I am planning on trying it tomorrow!

I have two questions. First, about the roasting pan. All I have is one of those cheap disposable aluminum pans. Will that change the recipe at all? Second, when you are cooking a big bird (about 20 lbs) at what point do you take off the foil? I really want a nice crispy skin.

Thanks!

Chef John said...

the pan's OK! not sure exact time, about halfway through. The skin on roast turkey never really gets super crispy no matter what you do. ;-) You don't have to use foil at all, and can just cover at the end if its getting too dark. enjoy!

Jihan said...

Just wanted to thank you, this was my first time making Turkey, and your recipe was extremely helpful.

Betsy Deak said...

What amazing videos! I am a long-time good cook (at least that's what I've been told) and I've come to love cooking even more with your help. Thanks so much!

Erva said...

Hi Chef John, I love your video and am going to try it your way. I know I am a little dumb with computers but is there a place for the written amounts for your butter and everything else you talked about in the video or do I need to listen and write quickly as you talk.

Chef John said...

If u follow the links at the end if the post you will find all the ingredients. Enjoy!

Source.Open(ForAll) said...

Chef John, we are going to attempt our first turkey and will follow your recipe. We have two questions:

1. Do you have advice on the type of turkey to use (Fresh or Frozen)?

2. Do you recommend or find it necessary to brine the bird? If so, how do you recommend we brine?

Thanks for the post, it's really helpful!

Chef John said...

fresh if you can get it, but i've used frozen many times and it's fine! The key is NOT to over cook. Use a thermometer and not time guides. Also, brining definitelyenjoy! helps for moisture. Just google for directions, their are TONS of articles on brining.

Richard in Rainier, OR said...

Chef John, I'm planning on using your recipe for this year's Thanksgiving Turkey.
Question: What do you think about substituting Kraft Cooking Creme Italian Herb & Cheese, for herb butter, under the skin? It looks to be about the same consistency.

Chef John said...

Maybe, but ones butter and ones cheese ;) Give it a try.

Dariana Robinson said...

Hi chef john my name is Dariana and I'm 19 years old and i love to cokk i just wanted to say thank you so much chef john I started culinary school because of your videos! You inspire me so much! I'm making a turkey for the first time and so far its going great at first I was a little bit scared but your video really put me at ease! Thanks so much chef john oh my teachers name is chef john too lol

ron said...

Hi Chef John my name is Ron. I have been following your recipe for 2 yrs. and am on my 3rd yr. I'm looking for the recipe for the herb butter. Where can i find it on your site?

Chef John said...

there is no video, but here you go... http://americanfood.about.com/od/holidayclassics/r/turkbutter.htm

j4grave said...

I made this turkey for my wife & family (...my very first)& it was delicious! Turned out beautiful. The gravy might be the best tasting gravy we have ever had!!

I have to tell you Chef John,
since I discovered your blog, you've inspired me to cook soooo many delicious meals, I just had to say THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

I've been the one assigned to cook the turkey for Thanksgiving in our home for a couple of years now, and this by far got the most rave reviews from all family members. It was incredibly moist, had tons of flavor, and most all, it was super easy! Thank you for making the Thanksgiving main dish so stress-free. :)

Jenn L said...

I have a spice rack at home I purchased a while ago and never used the herbs it came with. Can I used dried herbs as substitute for the fresh ones? What would the proportions be and would the dried herbs be too old? (about 2 years)

I'm just a beginner cook that would like to save some money. :) thanks for the help

Sr. CalĂ­gula Varney said...

Chef... REALLY... REALLYYYYYY THANKS FOR THIS RECIPE!!! It's just amazing!!! I did yesterday and was GREAT! Everybody loves it! Delicious and moist... Oh God!!! THANKS THANKS!!!!!

PSS said...

Chef - could you comment on brining the turkey before cooking the turkey via your recipe?

I did this last year with an apple brine I found elsewhere and then smoked the turkey for 10 hours on my Webber SMS. The turkey was amazing but something was too salty. Can't remember if it was the meat or the gravy - which I suspect because it basically got reduced from while cooking that the drippings pulled from the pan probably may have been salty to start given the butter and the brine...

Thanks

Chef John said...

Brining is fine and doesn't really effect this except you have to be careful about seasoning since the meat will already have salt in it from the brine!

Midori said...

it turns out we do have one like yours but would it take longer to cook? @_@ im confused or should i just stick to my aluminum foiled ? i also have a regular metal tray just curious here ^ ^ sorry for the many questions >_<

Chef John said...

Sorry, don't see other questions and don't understand this one. Any pan big enough will work!

Midori said...

i was wondering how long did it take you to fully well down cook this turkey? i bought mine today and is the same weight @_@ first turkey ever help!

gloria garcia said...

What's the recipe for the flavored butter?

Chef John said...

any compound butter recipe will work. Here's one I've done http://americanfood.about.com/od/holidayclassics/r/turkbutter.htm

kurehaha@gmail.com said...

Chef John! I made my first turkey today by watching your tutorial videos over and over!. The turkey was so moist and juicy!! The gravy was the best I've ever tasted!! (I've never liked gravy but this one I like it very much!) I also made your perfect mashed potatoes... sooooo goood. I am not afraid of cooking turkey anymore! Thank you so much!!

I call them as I see them said...

John, you made me look like a king! Everything was delicious; I received a lot of compliments for the turkey, the vegetables and the gravy. I'll come back for more delicious recipes. Thank you!

Suzanne Tyrpak said...

Chef John, After destroying a turkey last year, I trembled at the thought of making yet another batch of turkey jerky. Luckily, I discovered your videos! Your easy-to-follow advice gave me the courage to face a bird again--and it came out perfectly! So did the gravy. Yum! I've bookmarked this page for next year. Please don't take it down or I may slide back into a dark pit of despair and resort to Hungry Man pot pies.

Mariam said...

Last year in 2012 was the first time I ever hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner and my husband and I cooked our first ever Turkey. Followed these instructions to a T and everyone loved my turkey. Usually my family has chicken for Thanksgiving because they say turkey is too dry, but they loved mine so much they've asked me to host it again. Won't be in town though so I'll host Christmas and they have requested for my Turkey again. My secret recipe was your You Tube video. Thank you!

Mariam said...

Chef John I wanted to let you know that last year in 2012 I hosted my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner and my husband and I cooked our first Turkey. My family LOVED IT and it was all thanks to your you tube video, your tutorial. I followed your steps to a T and the results were delicious. They've asked me to host again this year, but I'll be out of town so they've begged me to make my turkey for Christmas. Most surprisingly is that my family doesn't like Turkey, they always have chicken for Thanksgiving, but now I've got them all into Turkey.

Keith Fernandes said...

Hi John.. I want to try this recipie out, but i just cannot seem to find the butter recipe.. can you please help me out!

Thanks
Keith

Skeeta said...

This is my first time baking a turkey and I tried this method..and it came out perfect..so thank you Chef John..

Dingus McDoohickey said...

Ditto what Skeeta said. I love your videos, they are so clear and easy to follow and best of all, they work! And thank you for taking all the extraneous, fussy bullshit out of cooking, Chef John.

Karyn Mastrude said...

I LOVE you, Chef John! I've always made a pretty decent turkey and gravy, but this year (for a change of pace), I used your recipe and the complements didn't stop! And the gravy was the best I've EVER made...I didn't know turkey could be that juicy. I carved the breast all the way to the bone and the juice was ALL THE WAY THROUGH it and the meat nearly fell apart, it was so moist and tender. I'm a queen thanks to you!
PS. I love your humor and the way you simplify even the toughest recipe. Thank you for all you do to bring amazing meals to us via Youtube so we, in turn, can bring them to our table and wow the family. I'm grateful to you!

Chef John said...

Thank you so much!!

sashajob04 said...

I used this recipe the first time i ever started cooking Thanksgiving feast, and has been ever since minus the chinese five spice, cant seem to find it, however, everyone loves how juicy it is. Hands down, This recipe rocks. Awesome Chef!