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Worry not! Here's a 5-step turkey-making tutorial from a local cooking instructor

Stuffed turkey // KATU photo .jpg

Maybe you're looking for a new method, or last Thanksgiving's turkey didn't turn out so great -- here are some tips from Chef Jessica Hansen at The Kitchen at Middleground Farms.

1. Brine your turkey:

  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons all spice berries
  • 1 gallon ice/water

Combine 1/2 gallon vegetable stock with salt, brown sugar and spices and stir until dissolved. Add remainder of vegetable stock and allow to cool until at least lukewarm. Add the ice/water combo and pour over turkey in a large enough container to allow the turkey to submerge. You may need to do this in an insulated cooler if weather isn’t cold enough to keep outside overnight. Chef Hansen puts a plate over the turkey to weight it down and keep it submerged. After at least 12 hours she removes the bird, drains it and allows it to sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking. She also makes sure the skin on the top is dry.

2. Don't stuff your turkey with stuffing. Your turkey may be cooked to 165 degrees, but the stuffing inside may not be. By the time the stuffing inside is cooked to a safe temperature, your turkey may be overcooked. Stuff it with these ingredients instead:

  • 1 apple
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • Sprig of sage
  • Parsley stems

3. Baste the bird with lemon, parsley and garlic butter:

  • 1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 small lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped

Process in food process or mix by hand.

Rub all over the outside of the bird, and get it between the skin and the breast meat as well.

4. Make a turkey jacket. Fit foil on the top of the bird, covering the breasts, before you put it in the oven. That way you don't burn your hands by fitting it on top after roasting for 30 minutes.

Put turkey in the oven legs first. Roast for 500 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown, then cover with foil turkey jacket and reduce oven to 350 until meat thermometer registers 161 degrees. For a 14 lb bird, it will take around 2 – 2/12 hrs in total. At 350 degrees you’ll expect the turkey to take an additional 13 minutes per pound for larger birds.

5. Always use a meat thermometer. Make sure you put it in the thickest part of the thigh, entering the chicken at the crease between the breast and thigh. Don’t hit the bone, as the reading will be inaccurate. When the turkey has come to temperature, let it rest for AT LEAST 30 minutes to let the juices settle.

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If you'd like a hands-on lesson for next year, or for the rest of the holiday season, The Kitchen at Middleground Farms hosts classes.

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