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It’s that time of year again. Time to start planning our Thanksgiving dinner. Most years family and friends get together to enjoy the meal together although I’m sure this year is different. Our families all live out of state so we usually don’t get together each year. But, our choice of main entree in our house is turkey. We usually make turkey for Thanksgiving and then maybe ham or pork for Christmas. But, I’ve heard that some people prefer ham for Thanksgiving.

Turkey

So growing up we had turkey in my house on Thanksgiving. Nothing fancy, in fact, I believe we always had an off brand one. My husband, on the other hand, always had Butterball turkeys in his house. Now that we have our own family, we always buy Butterball. Honestly, I can’t say I really see much difference in the turkey but it really doesn’t matter to me.

How to prepare it

I know that many people seem to struggle when it comes to cooking a turkey. Either it’s not cooked thoroughly or they feel they need to place it in the oven early in the morning. I’ve never understood why. Why is there even a help line? Not bragging but I can honestly say I’ve never messed up a turkey. To me, it’s just so easy. This is what I do.

  • Take the turkey out of its package and be sure to remove all packages in all cavities.
  • We have a neck eater in our family so I keep the neck and then discard the gizzards.
  • Wash the neck and turkey inside and out.
  • Pat well to dry.
  • Melt some butter and pour all over the turkey.
  • Season well on the outside and inside cavity with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and any other seasoning you like (I also season the neck the same)
  • Then place in a deep roasting pan and that’s it. Cook as directed.

Cooking in paper bag

This cooking method my mom told me about. It always turns out moist and tender. All you do is prepare the turkey the same way as above but then you place it into a large paper bag (supermarket bags) and then staple the bag shut. Cook it according to the turkey recommendations on the package but the last hour, cut the top off the bag to allow the turkey to brown. I haven’t used this method in a few years because I’ve forgotten to get bags and this year I haven’t been to the stores at all.

Cooking in the oven overnight

I have tried this method, too. You prepare the turkey as mentioned above but then place it in the oven at 180/200 degrees before you go to bed. Then, it will slow cook all night long. In the morning, you turn the heat up to 450 and let it brown. This method works well, too, and some people only cook it this way. Personally, I don’t want my turkey done first thing in the morning. I understand the need to want the oven to be clear to make other dishes closer to dinner time but for some reason we make it work.

Our typical sides

We usually have the same sides every year. We might alternate to using store bought gravy or stuffing but for the most part the sides are the same. Each year we have mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes w/gravy, dinner rolls, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a dessert. This year we are opting for store bought gravy just to make it easier. Some years, too, the turkey gives off less juice than planned and we’ve gone without gravy. So, this year we are buying gravy and maybe just incorporate some of the juices into the gravy. One thing we really don’t like to have store bought and that is stuffing. My husband makes the best homemade stuffing. It’s SO good!

What is the tradition in your family? Are you a turkey or ham household? If you eat turkey, too, how do you prepare yours? Any tips you can share? Is there anything you struggle with? Maybe I can help you out. I would love to hear other seasoning ideas and cooking methods, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Enjoy this time with your families and stay safe.

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