Turkey and gravy. This is what it all comes down to. Fresh, juicy turkey and a top-notch homemade gravy from the drippings. This is a very simple turkey for beginners. The turkey will shine by doing very little to it. Before you start scrambling all over the internet looking for all the best turkey tips, here are a few easy ones to remember.
Turkey tips that make a difference:
- Read the instructions on the turkey wrapper. It will usually provide you with a table of information based on what size turkey you purchased and what temperature you should cook it. For example, it will tell you how long to cook a 19 pound turkey at 325 degrees or at 350 degrees depending on your temperature preference.
- Keep watch on the red popper thermometer that is already inserted into the turkey when you purchase it (in most cases). When it pops up your turkey is DONE. Don't second guess - it popped for a reason.
- Have your kitchen thermometer ready to check the thickest part of the bird. Just like chicken, you want the internal temp to be 165 degrees before consuming. If the red popper thermometer popped it's done, but I always check the internal temp anyway just to be safe!
- Keep your turkey covered in foil until the last hour of cooking. If you cook it uncovered the whole time, the skin will dry out and probably burn.
- Basting the turkey in it's own juices will not make the skin soggy. In my experience, as long as you baste after the foil has been removed the skin will be crispy.
- Plan that some things will go wrong and don't panic. For example, when I filmed cooking this turkey the foil fell off the back and I didn't know it. So part of the turkey was fully browned when I checked it an hour before it was done. Oops! Guess what? I simply covered the already-browned part in the foil while the rest remained uncovered for the last hour of cooking. Made no difference. Turkey was still outstanding!
- Remove juices from the pan. You will use this juice and fat as the base for the homemade gravy.
Thanksgiving: the one time a year you cook a turkey!
Welcome to my Thanksgiving Series! This is a feast I made for about $95 and it serves 8-10 people. You’ll probably still have some leftovers too! I bought a whopping 19½ pound turkey and economized as much as I could to keep this under $100. I know staying on a budget is important. This is my first Thanksgiving as a food blogger and I hope to add new Turkey Day recipes each year. The dinner here is a budget-friendly, beginner-friendly option.
All the Thanksgiving Series Essentials:
- Fantastic No-Frills Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Pepperidge Farm Stuffing with Apples & Celery
- Steamed Brussel Sprouts w/Toasted Pine Nuts & Bacon Bits
- Sautéed Butternut Squash with Caramelized Leeks & Thyme
- Killer Apple Pie with Butter Crust
Need some appetizer ideas? No problem!
These are tried and true recipes that I highly recommend. I'm making the shrimp & gorgonzola dip with crostini which is my all-time favorite appetizer! All these options can be made a day or two ahead. Simply reheat the shrimp dip in the microwave and toast the crostini in your toaster oven. The Thai pork toast can be made ahead (I often have some in the freezer!) and reheated in the toaster oven as well. Serve with sriracha sauce on the side. Excellent finger food and a crowd pleaser.
Gravy is pretty easy to make - take a look
When it comes to the gravy there are many ways you can do this. I kept this recipe really simple. Remove the turkey juices/fat from the baking pan. I also used chicken broth because I felt guilty using too much fat from the turkey. I know some of it is juice, but I honestly don't know the ratio of juices to just plain fat... so chicken broth is a good alternative.
Use the fresh thyme on hand from the butternut squash recipe to season the gravy along with salt and pepper. You can thicken the gravy by making a slurry. This is equal parts flour and water whisked together. If you want the gravy a bit thicker you can make additional slurry if needed. It's very easy to make and only take a minute.
So there you have it! Thanksgiving turkey for beginners and homemade gravy. I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you have some non-turkey lovers attending your feast you can always make my Stove Top Stuffing Chicken Rolls.Print