There is nothing more tasty or satisfying than a well-cooked turkey. And what better day to have it taste its best than on Thanksgiving? There are many recipes for cooking Thanksgiving turkey, but the simplest recipe is still the best tasting. With a lot of recipes, the turkey ends up tasting like a lot of the ingredients people use when cooking the turkey. The best tasting turkey is still the one that tastes like turkey; not basil, chives, onions or any other ingredient, including dressing, which has many different ingredients added for taste.
Dressing is still the best dish to have with turkey, followed by mashed potatoes, potato salad and deviled eggs. With all these dishes you have many different types of ingredients making for a very flavorful dinner. And that's fine, but the turkey is best tasting like turkey.
Some people get up early on Thanksgiving Day and put the turkey in and cook it in a few hours. Then they wonder why the turkey is a little tough. Cooking Thanksgiving turkey overnight is the best way to enjoy very tender, flavorful turkey. You can cook the turkey in a gas oven on low heat and it will be very tender when you finish it on Thanksgiving Day. But cooking overnight with gas is a little dangerous. I usually stay up all night if I cook with gas, cooking on low, about 200 degrees, and about 7:00am turn the heat up to about 350 degrees to finish in about two hours.
You can cook the turkey on Thanksgiving Day with electric, but once again, you sacrifice flavor and tenderness. Cooking turkey overnight is again the best method with electric. And electric is much safer to use for overnight cooking than gas. But with the cost of electric today, cooking overnight with an electric range will be somewhat expensive. And since you will undoubtedly be cooking all day, cooking with an electric or gas range can cause the temperature to rise substantially.
When cooking Thanksgiving turkey, the best way to cook is with an electric roaster. It's less expensive than a range, safer than gas, and creates less heat than either of the other methods. Cooking with an electric or gas range, many people use a cooking bag to help tenderize the turkey. With an electric roaster you don't need the bag, although you can use one. I personally don't like having to open and close the bag every time I want to baste the turkey. And it will be just as tender with the roaster as it will be in a cooking bag.
Put the turkey in the roaster about 11:00pm and smother it with margarine. Add a little salt and just a little pepper. Set the temperature at 200 degrees and go to bed without having to worry. If you happen to get up during the night, baste the turkey before going back to bed. About 7:00am turn the temperature up to 350 degrees and baste two or three times before the turkey is done. The Thanksgiving turkey will be done in about three hours and it will be so tender it will be falling off the bone. Cooking Thanksgiving turkey in a roaster allows you to use the range, saving time. Happy Thanksgiving!
Reprinted with permission.