Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Turkeytopia for a Philly Phriday

by Suzanne Fluhr on November 23, 2012 · 36 comments

Turkey Ready for the Oven

Updated: November 18, 2016

Those of you who have not yet unfriended me on Facebook because of our recent presidential election, know that for me, Thanksgiving is kind of like a freakish fowl Groundhog Day because, from year to year, I can’t seem to remember how to cook a turkey.

When I last described my turkey cooking phobia, it was 2012 and I had procrastinated (or was it the mild concussion?) in starting my annual quest for the perfect way to cook a 14  pound turkey without it being:

  • seriously under-cooked at dinnertime,
  • seriously overcooked,
  • seriously too dry, and/or
  • seriously laced with salmonella bacteria.

So, late Wednesday night, after watching my usual political junkie show, I pulled out my copy of The Joy of Cooking—you know, the cook book your mother gave you when you left for college because it “has everything you will ever need to know about cooking”. No sir. Not my copy of the Joy of Cooking. It basically said something totally unhelpful like, “a turkey is just a big chicken”, so I looked up “chicken, roasted” where it said something like “a chicken is just a small turkey”. (I may be paraphrasing here).

Okay. Deep breath. Just because I couldn’t find the answer to my predicament in the 1136 page Joy of Cooking, surely the 1,028 page (fewer, but larger pages) The New Best Recipe from the Editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated cook book would have the answer. But no000 — I mean, the authors felt the need to share all the ways they tried to roast a turkey that were less than optimal, before coming up with a technique that read something like the Kama Sutra (not, of course, that I have ever read (nor even glanced at) the Kama Sutra). Who knew one should position one’s turkey in all sorts of bizarre ways?

By then, it was well after midnight and I was starting to hyperventilate. I remembered that an English Boomeresque reader had provided the link to her tried and true roast Christmas turkey recipe in a comment to my Turkey-phobia blog post. The English are not world renowned for their avant garde cookery, so I was hoping that Delia, apparently sort of the English Julia Child, would provide a sensible, straight forward, no nonsense, stiff upper lip, turkey roasting method. The non-starter was that Delia recommended taking one’s already defrosted or fresh turkey out of the refrigerator the night before so it would be room temperature when it was time to put it in the oven. Really? Do I want to be questioned by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)?

Well, Dr. WhatEverYourNameIs, I’m sorry all my Thanksgiving dinner guests had to be hospitalized for salmonella poisoning, but I just followed Delia’s suggestion to leave my fresh turkey out all night.

Delia also suggested a somewhat complex (for me) roasting schedule with different times at different temperatures. However, she provided the cooking times for an 8 to 10 pound turkey and for a 15 to 20 pound turkey. Excuse me.  My turkey is supposed to weigh 14 pounds. Am I supposed to extrapolate? Those of you who went to high school with me perhaps noticed that I was not in your Advanced Placement Calculus class.

At this point, it was well after midnight, so I whined on Facebook. Apparently, I have Facebook friends who are also turkey cooking insomniacs (or they live in different time zones) and they provided all manner of suggestions (Reynolds roasting bag? Maybe next year). The one I found most appealing was to follow the directions on the turkey wrapping. Mind you, I was not yet in actual possession of our turkey, having decided to conserve refrigerator space by ordering it to be picked up the morning of Thanksgiving. Hence, I went to try to sleep secure in the knowledge that I did not know whether my turkey wrapping would have any directions.

A few hours later, my husband, Mr. Excitment, asked me when I was picking up our turkey. He quickly realized that he would be picking up our turkey. He confirmed that the turkey was under my name and walked over to our local turkey purveyor. Uh oh. There was no turkey under the name “Fluhr”. Not sure if I might have to be committed if he returned home sans turkey, he convinced the turkey guy to go check in the back. The guy sadly informed him that the only turkey left was marked for “Suzanne”. Yes!!!!

Examining the Turkey Cooking Instructions

Realizing that I Could Handle the Turkey Cooking Instructions on the Turkey Wrapper. Yay!

Mr. Excitement and the turkey arrived home. The turkey had straight forward roasting directions on the wrapping—no suggestion to roast it upside down, to prop up different legs at different times, to keep changing the oven temperature nor to place rosemary and basil infused oil under the skin.  Indeed, cooking it upside down would have  interfered with the little pop up “it’s finished!” plastic thingy. It said to roast it at 325 degrees for 20 minutes per pound and to let it sit for twenty minutes before carving. Pushing the limit of my arithmetical acumen, I back calculated from our target 5:00 P.M. dinnertime that our 14.2 pound turkey should be in the oven by noonish. I washed it. I put an apple in the cavity as recommended by a judge friend (hey, she’s a judge, she should know, right?). I put it in our wedding present turkey roaster pan. I rubbed it with salt and oil and into the pre-heated oven it went.

Turkey Ready for the Oven

Turkey Ready for the Oven (Note Little Red Pop Up Thingy)

From time to time, I basted it with chicken broth and the drippings.

Basting the Turkey with Chicken Broth

Dino Helping Me Baste the Turkey

The apartment started smelling like someone who knew what they were doing was roasting a turkey. At 3:15 P.M., I peered through the oven window. Mr./Ms. Turkey looked lovely, nicely browned. I was thinking about covering him/her with tin foil so the skin wouldn’t get too dry when I realized that the little pop up plastic thingy had already popped up. Impossible!  It’s not supposed to be done for another hour and 15 minutes. I removed the beast from the oven and tested it with a meat thermometer —  in two places — it was, indeed, theoretically done.

Cooked Turkey

Is This a Beautiful Turkey, Or What?

I lowered the oven to 200 degrees and put the now foiled fowl back into the oven while I prepared Stove Top stuffing and heated up some jarred gravy (to which I added sherry and mushrooms) — nothing wrong with gastronomic baby steps. The guests arrived with some other “must have at Thanksgiving” side dishes. At 4:50 P.M., Mr. Excitment started carving.  Clear juices. No pink meat or bloody bones. At 5:01 P.M. —  dinner was served.

Thanksgiving Dinner Plate

Typical Thanksgiving Repast: Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Asparagus (Only Because the Store Didn’t Have Any Good Fresh String Beans–According to My Sister) (The meat really wasn’t pink. It must be a reflection off the cranberry sauce).

For the last two years, our son and daughter-in-law have hosted Thanksgiving dinner at their house, our son finally putting to good use his Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Management degree from 2006. However, this year, the Thanksgiving turkey has been punted back to me. I ordered our turkey yesterday. Now I just have to remember how to cook the ****ing thing.

(Turkey cartoon from the public domain: http://ibytemedia.com/free-turkey-clip-art-from-public-domain/)

Please share your favorite, tried and true, turkey cooking method.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin November 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I followed the wrapper directions, made my own stuffing, realized that beheaded, de-feathered fellows like laying on their backs, feet up, sewed up the stuffing and roasted for the suggested amount of time. The thingy popped up when done but I still used the roasting thermometer and found it to not be thee suggested 180 degrees. So it stayed in the oven until then. I have made dinner reservations under a name that wasn’t my usual and missed out on seating, so I can really relate to your story. Thanksgiving is always an adventure!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I’m confused. You cooked a turkey (stuffed no less), but still had to make dinner reservations?? Was it a BYOT (Bring Your Own Turkey) place?

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Roz Warren November 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Our vegan chili was delicious, thanks. We had a lovely day secure in the knowledge that no turkeys were harmed in order to produce our holiday meal. (However, a turkey made the ultimate sacrifice in order to provide Captain with Thanksgiving poultry.)

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Folks, Captain is a tiny Yorkie. It’s too bad an entire turkey had to be sacrificed for his tiny repast.

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Leslie In Portland, Oregon November 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I think you must have subconscious turkey roasting talents–that’s one beautiful bird!!
At our house, Scott did all the cooking (save my two cranberry sauces), using this year’s Splendid Table recipes for the turkey and gravy. With our daughter from Seattle, we hosted a family of five that had just moved here from north New Jersey (in an attempt to escape extreme weather!). The company was wonderful and the food scrumptious!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Thanks for the comment. I do have some talents—turkey roasting isn’t one of them. Talents come naturally. My turkey cooking “success” is fraught with fear and angst. BTW, from what I read (and from a son who was working in Seattle for the five days before Thanksgiving), Seattle has had some “extreme” weather lately. I’m not sure there’s anywhere in the world at this point where one can move to escape extreme weather — of one kind or another.

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Leslie In Portland, Oregon November 26, 2012 at 12:06 am

I agree…that was the irony of their reasoning. Historically, the weather here in Portland has been more temperate, summer and winter, than in any other part of the U.S. at or near its latitude, but we too are now experiencing weather that is at times hotter, wetter or drier than ever before during weather-recorded times.

I have printed out and posted on my wall the photograph of Dino at the start of this entry…he is so beautiful and endearing!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Dino has not yet learned to read, so I passed along your compliment via an extra tummy rub.

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Janet T November 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I always use roasting bags, they just make life easier- and stove top dressing and canned gravy.

and while I noticed we own the same stove…………yours looks so much cleaner than mine ever does

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer November 26, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Hmmm. My stove might look cleaner because I don’t use it as often 😉

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hillsmom November 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Yes, I too was going to make that comment…8-)

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hillsmom November 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

As I had posted on another site, the only way I know to cook a turkey is on a Weber charcoal grill. This is called “indirect” cooking and one has to add briquettes to each side (the number and time varies according to the outside temperature.) However, the turkey takes 11 minutes the pound, unstuffed) My DD has done the brine thing, but the actual cooking is mine. Once again, I’m pleased to say it was perfection which looked very much like yours above. My DD is quite the cook, and probably the only daughter whose Mother calls her for cooking advice. She actually made real gravy from a roux (?). It was better when I suggested adding a jolt of sherry. I was rather pleased that I did discover the organ parts in the neck cavity before going on the grill…hee hee.

Oh, we did have a horrid drive up to MA and back, but was worth it. I did have talk radio on around NYC where some people were discussing why they were absolutely through with traveling long distances for holidays. Something to think about…?

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer (Suzanne) November 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm

When I was growing up we used to drive to Brooklyn from Philadelphia every Thanksgiving to have dinner with our copious amount of New York relatives. I use the term “drive” loosely because a good portion of the time was spent at a standstill in traffic and back in those days, we typically also had at least one flat tire or other automotive problem. (This was when Detroit built obsolescence into American cars and my father always kept ours past that point). I love to share TG with family, but I do prefer to let them do the traveling–even if it means I have to confront the turkey each year.
Can you see the temp on the Weber grill? I admire your pluck (pun intended). The one thing my mother did teach me about turkey cooking was to remove the giblets. She’s 87 years old, but still remembers that the first time she had all the relatives over for Thanksgiving, she roasted the turkey with the giblets inside in a plastic bag!
BTW, thanks for sharing Boomeresque.

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Mike August 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I absolutely loved this post, Suzanne!! I could relate to everything single thing you shared as I went through this exact same experience with cooking my very first turkey (in my mid 40’s) a few years back. And like you I too had success (hey the instructions really work!). Also loved the pic of Dino in his Tryptophan nap zone 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr August 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

My problem is that my turkey phobia is like a bad remake of “Groundhog Day”. I get myself all worked up and frazzled every year and I’ve been in charge of Thanksgiving dinner since about 1985. As one of my sons said to me, “You’re the matriarch of the family now, Mom.”

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Mike August 6, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Now I’m thinking of Thanksgiving (my FAVORITE day of the year hands down) turning in to a “Groundhog Day”!!! That would be wonderful! 🙂

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Irene S. Levine August 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

You’ve got me thinking about Thanksgiving in August~:-)
Great photos.

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Cathy Sweeney August 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

That is a gorgeous bird! I have to admit that it’s my vegetarian hubby who does most of the turkey preparation and cooking. I give him a lot of credit for that since he won’t be eating any of it. The past few years when it’s just been the two of us at home for Thanksgiving, we still get a turkey (usually about 12 lbs.) … and it’s all for me! I have leftovers for a long, long time. The pic of the gin and tonic reminded me of Thanksgivings I used to spend with my sister and her family. We always overate to the point of being miserable. So we’d get out the Alka-Seltzer and take a pic of the glass in front of the carcass. 🙂

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Marcia August 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I had to smile, Suzanne. After all that, the cooking instructions were right there on the bird!
Since we didn’t grow up with the Thanksgiving turkey, in our house it was never an issue but I have who, every year, have such trepidation about the bird coming out just right. I think you did an excellent job. That bird looks very appetizing. And for all the stress you put yourself through, a G+T was quite in order.
Thanks for linking up this week!

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santafetraveler November 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Phabulous!

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Patti November 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Isn’t it funny how for whatever reason we pile on the food and eat ourselves silly on Thanksgiving – and Christmas? This year, it will just be the two of us so I’ll be looking for a very small Turkey and keeping it fairly simple. And I agree clean-up is much easier with a cocktail!

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Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) November 26, 2013 at 5:03 am

I think we just don’t have as many side dish possibilities at regular meals. With all the accouterments at a Thanksgiving dinner, the food does start to get that heaped on appearance. We’re definitely going to be a tad heavy on carbs this year. Candied sweet potatoes demanded by my sister. White mashed potatoes courtesy of my sons who can’t imagine that item to be nosing. Then there’s the stuffing, specifically requested by my ageed mother. And. Let’s not forget the pumpkin pie.

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Linda ~ Journey Jottings November 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

As a non-American who only has a turkey dinner on Christmas Day, is this maybe just a practice run for the Christmas dinner when you do it all again?
If not – what do you traditionally cook for the 25th Dec?

But I have to say – Good job! It looked as though it was cooked, not so much as to a turn, but to a perfect red poppy thing 😉

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Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) November 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I go to someone else’s house for Christmas dinner 🙂 She cooks a ham, a turkey and an Italian dish with tomato sauce and meatballs. (I being whipped sweet potatoes. Maple syrup is (was?) my “secret” ingredient). I think given the proximity time wise of Thanksgiving and Christmas, many Americans skip the Christmas turkey thing.

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Jan Ross November 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

I discovered years ago that turkeys don’t take nearly as much time to cook as is usually recommended. That’s probably why so many people dry them out! I have a 22 pounder this year and am a little intimidated by the size. But as my family grows and the kids bring home spouses, the turkey gets bigger! Hopefully, it will be as good as it usually is.

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Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) November 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for stopping by. I would be so intimidated by a 22 pound turkey. I’m getting heart palpitations just thinking about it.

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Donna Hull November 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Sounds wonderful and delicious. Since we are usually alone on Thanksgiving, our meal will be shared with all the other patrons of Skalkaho Steakhouse and it won’t be steak. The restaurant serves up a Thanksgiving buffet that’s almost like eating at home. They’ll even serve yams! Not bad for a Montana Thanksgiving.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr November 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm

With 10 people for this year’s TG dinner, I also did a buffet at our house. If there were a steakhouse in the neighborhood with a Thanksgiving buffet, that would be something to look into. On the other hand, if we were eating out, everyone would probably be on their best behavior thereby cancelling our best chance each year to get all our family pathology out on the table—-so to speak 😉

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Suzanne (Travelbunny) November 28, 2013 at 5:13 am

So glad it all turned out well in the end – in fact that turkey looked amazing! We’ve just ordered ours for Christmas (UK) and I’ll be following Delia’s destructions as they’ve always worked for me in the past! Happy thanksgiving 🙂

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Susan cooper November 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

Hilarious. I love your sense of humor. 🙂 I know so many women can relate to this. It seems like every year I try a new method, but I forget which one I like best. My own Thanksgiving surprise when I pull the turkey out.

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Ursula Maxwell-Lewis December 2, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Now I’m hungry! The urge to rush out and buy a bird is strong, but I shall resist… until Christmas!
I remember the first time I tried to cook a turkey was in My single Montreal years. I was washing it when it “flew” into the sink. I freaked out and waited until my mother arrived from Toronto to finish the job!

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Caroline June 15, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Hi Suzanne,

your comment about English cookery caught my eye and touched a very sore spot! So I rise to the defense of *British* cookery! While there certainly was a time when British cooking was an oxymoron, this is no longer true. The slow food and local food movements have great influence, not to mention the influence of the many immigrant cultures from Carribean, to East African to Asian. Local street markets all over the UK have cooked food stalls featuring local ingredients. Tiny restaurants open (and sadly often close) in cities and small towns to bring casual, ethnic, and haute cuisine to people whose tastes are well developed beyond egg salad sandwiches, steak and kidney pie, or bubble and squeak. Although, now I think about it, there’s a whole movement focusing on the re-imagining of old family favourites such as the 3 I mention here! Britain’s entry into the EU brought waves of influence from France, Italy, Greece and Spain which changed how we view ingredients, the value we place on food as an expression of culture and the importance of food as a social lubricant. I am old enough to remember post-war food rationing and would refer to you Andrew Marr’s The History of Modern Britain, Part One Hunger and Pride for analysis of how that rationing impacted the social and political fabric of the country and 40s, 50s, 60s and on.

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