So: you've got all the ingredients, you know what you're going to make, and you have your recipe in hand. You are ready to drop the mic on Thanksgiving.You've watched Food Network for so long that you feel like you've already met your candied yams and bacon brussels sprouts. Your kitchen is packed with fresh ingredients, waiting patiently for you to address them. The turkey is in your fridge and... oh wait. The turkey. You haven't really thought about how to make it. You thought that cooking the turkey would be the easy part — you just, put it in the oven for a few hours, right?
OK now you're freaking out, you're scouring the internet, your polling your group chat: what's the easiest way to cook the turkey? And no one has a simple answer. One person's got their great grandmother's recipe that involved six hours of preparation. An online recipe says to start cooking it the night before. Another article tells you it's too hard to cook a turkey, and to just get a precooked one from the grocery store. You're in full panic mode — but you don't need to be.
Here, I have a super easy way to cook the turkey. It doesn't take a whole day. It doesn't take a culinary degree. And it doesn't involve unforeseen ingredients or plot twists. Here's how to do it in under four hours:
Take It Out Of The Fridge, Get It Situated, And Ready The Oven
At least a half hour before you're ready to get to work on it, take out the turkey and let it warm up a little bit — this will make working with it easier. Place it in a two to two and a half inch pan, above a rack. Fill the pan with two cups of water and whatever aromatic veggies your heart desires (they're not imperative). Set the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove The Guts
Inside your turkey, you'll find a little sack of giblets and liver and other odds and ends. You can either toss these, cook them for your dog, or save them for later if you're feeling adventurous.
Butter The Bird
Get some salted butter out and massage the bird with it. Seriously, go to town under the skin and over the skin, the more butter, the better it's going to taste.
Salt the inside and outside of the bird, then go over it with pepper. Feel free to add some halved apples or onions to the inner cavity of the bird, but know it's not necessary.
Head To The Oven
Tent the turkey with some aluminum foil — this will help seal in the heat and keep it constant. Stick a bird thermometer into the turkey so that you can easily check on it: the meat is fully cooked at 165 degrees to 180 degrees. Place it in the oven, and leave it. An average 12 pound turkey will take two and a half to three hours to cook, so consider 13 minutes per pound as a reference guide.
Take It Out
When the turkey's been in the oven for about 75 percent of its assigned time, start checking on it obsessively to see where the temperature is. You don't want to overcook it! You can baste it if you want, but it's not totally necessary. When the temperature hits 165 degrees, take it out and leave it sitting for at least 20 minutes. This is important, because during this time, it will reabsorb juices and get more tender.
Do a happy dance: you just cooked your very first turkey and it wasn't so hard.
Images: Fox, Giphy (7)