Don’t get caught up in Turkey Bags and Brines!

Imperfect Turkey

I just don’t know how my Mother did it–she was always so calm in the kitchen, and had everything planned out. She was a perfect hostess in my mind, but in reality I know there is NO perfect hostess. Things always happen on Thanksgiving Day – like burning the turkey, candle wax spilling over, red punch on the white table cloth, and possibly grumpy family members arriving at the front door.

Perfect just does not exist. But what matters is our attitude about the imperfect and how we move beyond it with a heart of thanksgiving!

I’ve had several people ask me how I’m cooking a turkey this year. I’ve tried the bag (yummy and moist), I’ve even tried the brine (delicious, but time consuming), so this year I’m going to be cooking my bird the old-fashioned way. A roasted turkey straight in the oven, cooked to a yummy brownness and taste.

I’m not too worried about the method or technique, whether it’s frozen or fresh, moist or dry, the strategy of making it perfect, or even in the visual presentation. I’m really looking forward to the smell, the sounds of laughter from my family, the sight of bodies relaxing and enjoying one another.

The taste will only add to The Day, as all 5 senses kick in, and we give thanks to the One who, in reality, has given us SO much more than we ever deserve.

I always wonder if He created the turkey with Thanksgiving in mind … have you thought about that?

Roasted Turkey with Rosemary
1 whole turkey (thawed)
1 fresh lemon, halved (an orange works, too)
Sea salt
Ground pepper
1-2 T. olive oil
Fresh rosemary sprigs (save a few sprigs out for the last hour of cooking)
1 onion cut into wedges
Carrots or celery, 1 cup chopped

Remove the contents of the bird and wash the turkey with cold water. First rub some oil over the turkey, inside and out, and then 1/2 of the freshly squeezed lemon inside and out.

Take salt and pepper and season the inside of the cavity, and then shake some on the outside of the bird. Squeeze juice from the other half of the lemon inside the bird, putting the rind inside the cavity, along with the fresh rosemary sprigs. Add the onion wedges and chopped carrots & celery inside.

Place the turkey on a rack, in your roasting pan. If you have any leftover rosemary, chop and keep for the last hour of roasting. Cover the bird completely with foil, tightening around the edges of your roasting pan. Place the bird in the middle of the oven and roast for several hours. You’ll need to check for the plastic thermometer to pop up, but you’ll also need to figure out how long to cook the bird according to the weight. Always check the directions on the bird, or look in your favorite cookbook, or here is a great turkey time chart.

fresh rosemary

One hour before the estimated “done” time, remove the foil, rub with more olive oil and add remaining chopped rosemary to the top. Put back into the oven to brown for the final hour.

When the temperature meets your approval, remove the bird from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before eating!

Again, cooking the turkey is not about perfection. Keeping Thanksgiving Day easy and fun and enjoyable for all should be at the forefront of every hostess’s mind.

And my advice if you have a beef about someone or something: Keep it to yourself!

Happy turkey cooking. I’d love to hear your simple philosophy that you plan to live by on Thanksgiving Day?

(Top photo: Abby and me 3 years ago!)

13 comments on “Don’t get caught up in Turkey Bags and Brines!”

  1. We are going to my mother-in-laws – 12 people total. Two years ago, I taught her how to make my turkey, so mow she will make the turkey, and I make most of the sides.

    We baste our turkey – no bag. Also, I put my citrus and herbs on the night before so it has time to work into th e meat of the turkey!

  2. Mmmmmm this sounds delicious. I might have to just do this. I am making our turkey this year. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Pingback: Don’t Stress over the Centerpiece!

  4. I stocked up on turkeys while they are such great prices and need to cook a couple of them. I have slow cooked most of them, but I am DEFINITELY trying this recipe tomorrow. I have a garden overflowing with Rosemary and since you say oranges will work instead of lemons, I have everything I need. I will let you know how it goes!

  5. My philosophy is to work hard the week before so you can savor the time together on turkey day!


  6. I love your attitude about life! I have had a lot of soul searching these past few weeks with the passing of my baby daughter! It has put things in perspective! I have even offered to cook Thanksgiving for my family. Of course, they were concerned about me doing this, but I want to. We are doing nontraditional with a brisket instead of turkey and everyone was okay with that. After following your site for a while now, I realize it is not what is served but the people and fellowship that matters. Of course, I will be praying that the brisket won’t be too dry or the sweet potatoes to sweet, but if they are, so be it. We will all be together thanking our Lord above for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us! Happy Turkey (brisket) Day!

  7. We have to go with the flow around here. When your kids get married you have to share these great celebration days so you need to learn not to cling to stuff that just doesn’t matter. We also are invited to a friends on T-day so we generally will make the turkey another day…whatever day works for everyone. We keep it simple, too. No big deal if we forgot something green to go on the plate :0) Is there really room for green on the plate anyway? I think I’ll just throw in a green appetizer….

  8. Being thankful to the ONE with you! I am trying a similar method to you this year, but covering the bird with slabs of bacon! Thankfully I have a family that cares more about laughter than perfection!

  9. We are traveling to my sister in law’s house this Thanksgiving. I actually will miss not having those smells in my kitchen, but alas, it is not my turn! Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. My very large, extended family always does “potluck” so no one has a huge burden—(I’m bringing pies)—it makes for a happy, sharing, day. Many (grown) nieces and nephews we haven’t seen for a few years will be here this year. It will be a day full of hugs, catching up and sharing memories.

  11. Wow, I needed this today. I am going to write down what you said about “perfect just does not exist” and hang it up where I can easily see it. Thank you for all you share with us.

  12. I can almost smell that turkey! I love Christi’s idea of working hard the days before and being able to relax and do the last minute things on the big day. Nobody like a stressed, grumpy hostess either! ha!

  13. Our Thanksgiving will be small, just my family of 4 and my in-laws. I cook my turkey the old-fashioned way, too – and it’s always just great.

    I will cook most everything in the next couple of days so that on Thursday, I can be low-key & just worry mainly about the turkey.

    With my young boys, we plan to keep the focus on being thankful {and all that it means, i.e. not just when things are going your way} and all of the blessings that have come our way this year.

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