The Art of Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Swanson's TV Dinner packaging, 1954.
Swanson's TV Dinner packaging, 1954.
Photo Credit: NebraskaStudies.Org

I was nine years old and I just finished watching Soupy Sales give advice that all of us children should grab a bottle of 7-UP and go into the kitchen while Mom is cooking turkey and tell her to use it as a glaze for the bird. Well, being the naive child that I was and not knowing that one should never give suggestions to someone who is cooking, I ran into the kitchen and while my mother was stirring something on the stove-top I told her that I had a great suggestion: "Pour 7-UP on the turkey, Mom!" Well, without hesitating a beat, she clonked me on the head with a wooden stirring spoon.

She didn't hit me hard enough to knock me out or give me any lasting dis-figuration on my noggin, but what really hurt was the shock of getting hit at all for merely making a suggestion. Normally I would get spanked for bringing in a dozen or so stray cats into the house but this seemed uncalled for. It wasn't until years later when I was married that I realized that getting suggestions while cooking can be very, very annoying. I love to cook and so does my wife of 11,851 days (that's 32 years, 5 months and 10 days for those of you not doing time), so we make sure that we avoid being in the kitchen at the same time.

But at Thanksgiving, staying out of each other's way is very difficult, so we break up the cooking chores. My wife will do the lasagna, mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes and I will do the turkey, yams, corn and broccoli. My children also take up various tasks and duties. This Thanksgiving dinner we will have the smallest gathering in years, only ten of us, eight of whom live in my home.

So if you are not cooking a Swanson Turkey TV Dinner you might want to try my method for making the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey, it's rather simple, actually:

Non-Stick Vertical Poultry RoasterI use a vertical turkey roaster to help cook the beast evenly. Any other way will make for an unevenly cooked bird. If you have a large party divide up the number of turkeys you need into 11 to 13 pound lots. Instead of a 22 pound turkey, buy two 11 pounders; this way you end up with 4 legs and 4 wings instead of just two each. A bigger bird is almost impossible to cook correctly. Baste it however you like initially, I don't do it during baking. Cloak the turkey with foil for the first hour, then remove. The important thing is cooking at 330 degrees until the temperature in the joint between the leg and the breast is 167 degrees. Take it out and wait 15 minutes or so for the turkey to reach 178 degrees which is then the perfect time to carve it and begin eating.

What? You thought it would be more complicated than that?

By the way, I tried basting with 7-UP - it didn't do much for me.

I would like now to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving and as Americans we have much to be thankful for. We can all be especially thankful that we were not born Muslim. Here's a poor innocent child who died at the hands of his Muslim father:

The Australian,
Musharraf frees political prisoners

Meanwhile, horrifying new details emerged last night of the attempt by suicide bombers to kill Ms Bhutto on her return home from exile last month.

Investigators from Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said yesterday they believed the bomb, which killed 170 people and left hundreds more wounded, was strapped to a one-year-old child carried by its jihadist father.

They said the suicide bomber tried repeatedly to carry the baby to Ms Bhutto's vehicle as she drove in a late-night cavalcade through the streets of Karachi.

"At the point where the bombs exploded, Benazir Bhutto herself saw the man with the child and asked him to come closer so that she could hug or kiss the infant," investigators were reported as saying. "But someone came in between and a guard felt that the man with the child was not behaving normally. So the child was not allowed to come aboard Benazir's vehicle."


Boing Boing: TV Dinner Inventor Gerry Thomas Dies

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