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How to Thaw & Roast and Carve a Turkey

Those of you who have read a few of my posts know that I have very definite opinions about some things and how to roast and carve a turkey is one of them!

First we need to address the frozen turkey issue. 99.9% of all Thanksgiving turkeys are frozen simply for food safety. So, probably 99.9% of us will have a turkey that is somewhere in the middle of defrosting when we need to start cooking it on Thursday. Pls see USDA recommendations above.

I have about a 12 lb Plainville Pre-Brined Turkey in my fridge that is the same one we will be delivering to many here in NYC and it is not yet fully defrosted.... it is only Wednesday so I am going to keep it in the fridge and let it do it's thing for another 24 hours then will follow the USDA recommendations above.... I personally like the cold water method.

Now, on to the roasting of the turkey. There are soooooo many recipes out there that include lots of onion, lemons, herbs, carrots, apples etc., but I really like a simple, bake in a bag method.

Here is how to do it:


1 fresh turkey, 10-12 lbs

1/2 a stick of Crisco or butter

1 yellow onion, quartered

salt and pepper

2 tbsp flour

1 Reynold's turkey baking bag


Preheat Oven to 350

Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the quartered onion and stuffing if desired.

Liberally smear the outside of the turkey with the crisco or butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have a pre-brined turkey skip the salt here. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Prepare oven bag with flour: Add 1 Tbsp flour to the bag and shake, don’t skip this step. This helps the bag not stick to the turkey.

Add the turkey to the oven bag. Close oven bag with the tie included with oven bag. Cut 5 slits across top of the oven bag to allow steam to escape then tuck ends of oven bag into the pan.

Roast until turkey registers 165 degrees in thickest portion of breast in several places and 175 in the thigh, 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a 12 lb turkey.

When fully cooked, remove the turkey from the bag and let rest 15 min. Remove stuffing and add it to your stuffing that is probably in the oven heating.

Now it is time to carve the turkey. Carving the turkey at the table is very elegant, and looks nice, but the fact is it takes too long while all the other food is getting cold... and you really don't get enough of the turkey off the bones.

Here is how I recommend to carve the turkey... my grandfather learned it from his father, my father learned it from my grandfather and I learned from my father (my husband doesn't like bones, so I was elected to learn!). When you carve the turkey this way you will have lots of amazing sliced white meat to serve immediately as well as to use for turkey sandwiches on Friday. Plus, your turkey carcass will be ready to use for turkey soup!

Step 1: Remove the wings: Pull the wing away from the body and slice through the skin to locate the shoulder joint. Cut through the joint to remove the wing. Place wings on a serving platter.

Step 2: Remove the whole legs & thighs: Pull the leg away from the body and slice through the skin to locate the thigh joint. Cut through the joint to remove the entire leg.

Step 3: Separate the thighs and legs: Cut through the joint that separates the drumstick from the thigh. Serve these pieces whole, or carve them by cutting off the meat in thin slices parallel to the bone. Place the legs and the thigh meat on your platter.

Step 4: Remove the breast: Cut along the breastbone while following the curvature of the bones. Using your hand or a carving fork, gently pull the breast meat away while using the knife to remove the meat from the ribs.

Step 5: Slice the breast. You will now have two nice large in-tact turkey breasts. Using a very sharp knife and cutting board, cut slices as thick or thin as you like. We usually cut some thick for serving onThanksgiving then some thin for sandwiches the next day. Place on the platter and serve. I like to drizzle any accumulated juices over the turkey on the platter just before serving.

Save the turkey bones... I will post a yummy turkey soup recipe tomorrow!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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