How to Make a Thanksgiving Turkey

The average American eats about 170 pounds of turkey over the course of the year, the vast majority of which are purchased for Thanksgiving. To prepare a turkey, the recipe first has to be developed, assembled and broken down. Put a pumpkin-butter butter in the oven, and thaw a turkey with the skin removed at room temperature. Get the moisture from its carcass in the form of liquid accumulated from cooking it. Time it for 15 to 20 minutes, until it’s looking pretty cold, with the skin beginning to firm up in between deep browning. Gently push a spoon down its neck cavity and pull to open it. Then fasten the skin on with your favorite roasting bag and tie it together to prevent the bird from moving around. Wash it and pat it dry with paper towels. Tie an aluminum foil fly in place.

Use a turkey baster or good-quality light spray for keeping the meat moist. Brush a spoonful of pan drippings from the oven rack on the entire breast side of the bird, then place the bird on top of it. Lower the lid and cook the bird for 40 to 45 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit — it will only feel cooked once the thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a thoroughly cooked bird is free of “any ‘contamination from raw poultry juices.’” To ensure that the turkey is really fully cooked, this seasoning should be sprayed on the outside of the bird — especially when it’s been subjected to direct heat — when it’s resting.

Bacon and maple syrup: Spread a thin layer of this cooking fat over the bird’s surface. Finally, to make sure that a consistent minimum internal temperature is reached, allow the turkey to rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Olive oil: It doesn’t get much more natural than this. Add it to the pan drippings to brown the bird. Rub this body of leftover turkey with a spread of rosemary, thyme and garlic.

Ground Garlic: To lightly deglaze the pan with fat, first add a lot of garlic cloves, pressing them down lightly to separate them from the skins. Then cook the leftover turkey for about 40 minutes, until it reaches a medium internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the vegetables and garnish it with a drizzle of the oil-garlic mixture.

Waste-Nothing, Winter Stuffing

Scatter the stale bread, extra dressing and nuts and dry spices on the turkey, then fill it with this flavored cranberry sauce and stuffing — or your own.

To prepare the turkey for stuffing, remove it from the oven and, after it’s cooled, spread it with an oil-rich mixture made with whatever you want to use — carrots, celery, apples, onions, whatever you want to make it with. Add the spices to it along with the bread, dressing and all your other ingredients. Then let the turkey rest until it’s comfortable.

Once the turkey has rested, it’s ready to stuff into it, or leave it on the counter. Butter the bird with the leftover stuffing and tuck a piece of leftover cranberry sauce inside each of the stuffing bowls.

Fruit and Giblets Squash Roast

Roast a whole squash with a couple of sprigs of rosemary, dried sage and truffle. Brush the base of the squash with a balsamic reduction of white wine and juniper berries. Slice it in half so it’s no longer square, cut a slice off the top, then cut it in half again and cook it until it reaches a golden brown color. Let it rest for 10 minutes on the rack and serve it topped with braised lamb shanks.

White Stuffing with Seafood

Serve this shellfish-stuffed squash over cooked winter squash for a hearty, festive side dish.

Sautéed Sea Bass

The recipe calls for cooking the fish — when serving, it should be still pink and moist — in the skillet with the dill and squash. It’s best to serve this fish immediately, so make a small quantity and seal it tightly in a clean plastic bag.

This recipe can also be found on

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