Learn how to cook a turkey dinner that will rival any restaurant turkey dinner with some easy tips and tricks! You can even serve this turkey dinner for Thanksgiving with all the sides and trimmings in under three hours. If you are serving a large group of people or want to have plenty of leftovers, you'll want to get a large turkey, about 18 to 22 lbs. A large, frozen bird will take about five days in the refrigerator to thaw. The smaller the bird, the less thawing time.
To cook a turkey dinner, you will need:
- A turkey
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 large carrots
- 4 stalks of celery
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 sweet pepper, chopped
- 1 shallow roasting pan or tin
- Tin foil
- Once the turkey is thawed you will need to go into each end and remove a bag of organs from one side, and the long neck from the other side. Those can be thrown away or used for gravy. In this recipe we are going to discard those. Rinse the inside and outside of the bird in cool water then salt the inside.
- Wash the carrots and celery and place them on the bottom of the roasting pan. They will hold up the turkey during cooking, so put the bird on top, breast side up. Try to tuck the wings under the legs. You can also place a small piece of tin foil around the end of each wing to prevent burning.
- Put the onion and sweet peppers inside of bird to give it flavor. Drizzle olive oil over the bird and massage it over the entire surface, legs, wings and all. Repeat with minced garlic.
Place the turkey in 500 degree oven uncovered for at least 15 to 20 minutes or until well-browned. Once it's browned, take a large piece of tin foil and form a tent to cover but not seal the bird. At this point you can turn the oven down to 350 degrees or continue cooking at 500 degrees. The only difference is at the higher temperature the turkey will cook faster. The bird is done when the juices run clear, the legs and wings get real loose, or the meat thermometer reads at least 175 degrees. When you remove the bird from the oven it will continue to cook to or past 180 degrees, which is where we want it. Let the bird sit and the juices settle for 20 minutes before you carve. You can throw away the vegetables inside and under the turkey that you used for flavor.
- While the turkey is cooking you can baste it, but it's not necessary if you tent the bird. If you use a meat thermometer it should be inserted in between the thigh and body of the bird deep enough for a proper reading. From start to finish you should wash every surface that comes in contact with the uncooked turkey and juices, including your hands. If you do this along the way it's easier to remember where it's been and what utensils were used on it. Also while the bird is cooking you can easily ready the rest of the dinner.
- Dressing. A box of ready-to-serve turkey stuffing can be made more special by adding 1/4 cup cooked celery, and trail mix containing pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, and some broken dried banana slices. Follow the directions using chicken broth instead of water and add these during broth heating.
- Gravy. Go ahead and use store-bought gravy. You can add some juice from the turkey roasting dish.
- Mashed Potatoes. Use instant ones and substitute chicken broth for water. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic.
- Sweet Potatoes. Add some brown sugar and marshmallows to canned yams.
- Green Bean Casserole. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup and mix well. Place dried onion rings on top and heat in oven.