This is how I cook my turkey for Thanksgiving. I prep the turkey the night before, and place the bird in an oven cooking bag in a large roasting pan, and in the refrigerator. Then I am set to cook the bird the next day. Most of the time I do this a day or two before Thanksgiving (prepping and cooking the bird). Afterwards, I'll remove all the meat from the bird, then when it's time to heat the gravy, I'll add as much of the cooked turkey meat to it as I can. Usually everyone pours gravy over their meat, so I figure why not just mix the two together. Also, when it's time to make the gravy, and if I've already refrigerated the pan juices the day before, I'll then scrape off the fat that has accumulated on top. I've found this is a good way to remove excess fat from the gravy. Years past I've even cheated and on many occasions, I've use jarred gravy in place of the home-cooked gravy, and I'll add the cooked meat to it. And by the way, the jarred gravy I used was... Heinz.
Herb Roasted Turkey (Baked in Oven Cooking Bag)
Reynolds® Oven Cooking Bag, Turkey Size (for 8-24 lbs.)
1 tablespoon flour
1 (12 to 24 lb.) turkey, already thawed (See *Note)
2 carrots, peeled and rinsed
2 stalks celery, cut in half if need be
1 medium size onion, peeled and cut in half
a few whole cloves of garlic, peeled
About 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon regular table salt (or desired amount)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (or desired amount)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray inside of bag with a nonstick spray, to reduce sticking, if desired. Shake flour in Reynolds Oven Cooking Bag. Place in a large roasting pan, at least 2 inches deep.
Remove neck and giblets from turkey.
Rinse turkey; pat dry.
Brush turkey with the vegetable oil. (See *Note)
Combine the thyme, rosemary, seasoned salt, sage, table salt, and black pepper, then sprinkle and rub the herb mixture inside the cavity of the bird, plus over the entire the turkey; turning to coat evenly.
Place turkey inside oven cooking bag. Add vegetables inside the bird cavity. Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut 6 (1/2-inch) slits in top. Tuck ends of bag in pan.
Bake: 8-12 pound turkeys 1-1/2 to 2 hours, 12-16 pound turkeys 2 to 2-1/2 hours, 16-20 pound turkeys 2-1/2 to 3 hours, 20-24 pound turkeys 3 to 3-1/2 hours. (See *Note for roasting a 16 and a 19 pound turkey.)
For easy slicing, let turkey rest in oven bag (on top your stove) for 20 minutes before opening. If the turkey sticks to the oven bag, gently loosen the bag from the turkey, before opening the bag.
*Note: When it comes to prepping the bird, I do not brush the turkey with vegetable oil. Also, when it comes to baking the turkeys, I'll bake a (16 lb.) turkey for 2 hours & 15 minutes, and a (19 lb.) turkey for exactly 2 hours & 30 minutes. But, when I add the herbs and seasonings to the 19 lb. turkey, I use the following amount... 1-1/2 tablespoons of rubbed sage, 1-1/2 teaspoons each... of Lawry's Seasoned Salt, dried thyme, and rosemary, plus I add the 1/2 teaspoon of table salt, and the 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. And after I bake the 19 lb. turkey, I let it rest on top the stove for 30 minutes, before removing it from the cooking bag.
Additional pictures of the turkey...
I wanted to let everyone know, that as of yesterday I had prepared an 18 lb. Butterball Turkey, and used the following vegetables, dried herbs, and spices...
1 medium size onion
4 medium size carrots
3 stalks of celery, each cut in half
3 extremely large size whole garlic cloves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
2 tablespoons dried rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon of table salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, plus 1/16 teaspoon of black pepper
I placed the onion and 2 carrots inside the cavity of the bird, and 1 carrot each inside the pockets, which are on each side of the drumsticks and next to the breast of the bird. I also placed a celery half in each pocket, and the remaining halves of celery inside the cavity of the bird. I then placed an extra large clove of garlic in each pocket, and the remaining clove inside the cavity of the bird. I baked the turkey for 2 hours and 30 minutes, and the meat was so moist and tender.
As you can see, I upped the amount of carrots and celery, plus the dried herbs and spices this time when I prepared my turkey, which not only made my kitchen smell even more wonderful while it was baking, but I'm sure it will also make the gravy taste even more flavorful!