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Video: How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Turkey

Chef Cary McDowell of Winslow's Home demonstrates how to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey with gusto.

This detailed video has been made with the sincere effort to teach preparation techniques for a turkey dinner, be it for Thanksgiving or any other occasion throughout the year. Chef Cary McDowell of Winslow's Home has provided the recipe and his knowledge to assist those of us with less-than-stellar confidence in the kitchen. The step-by-step visual references assure those who try the recipe that we are (or maybe are not) on the path to a delicious turkey feast.

1 14 lb Turkey
3 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
3 or 4 small sweet potatoes
2 heads of celery root with greens attached
3 Yukon Gold potatoes
12 peeled garlic cloves
Aromatics; copious amounts of thyme, sage, lemon verbena and bay
1 pint of chicken broth
3 table spoons of olive oil
Liberal amounts of Kosher salt and black pepper
Torn bread (foccicia or personal preference)

Cooked in a large cast iron skillet (or smaller skillet with halves cooked individually in oven).  If a large skillet is unavailable for oven cooking, a 9 x 13 brownie pan can substitute. Use high heat when searing the meat on the stovetop. Set oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook between 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes after searing takes place. Oven variety and size of turkey can vary the cooking times, but the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees. Internal temperature of the turkey should be taken at or around the knee where the meat is thickest.

1. Peel and cut vegetables to similar thickness. Set aside. (1:46 in video)
2. Butcher the turkey with cleaver.

  • Remove liver, gizzards, heart, neck bone and drain residual juices.
  • Cut wings, snap out of joint and remove. Remove tip of wing. (3:27)
  • Cut along the backbone both the left and right so that it is completely removed from the turkey. (4:23)
  • Flatten the breast of the turkey as much as possible. (5:14)
  • Remove knuckles on the leg (5:23)
  • Remove caps of wings (5:33)
  • Split the turkey in two down the middle of the breast bone (5:53)

3. Aggressively season the two halves with kosher salt and pepper. The underside of the turkey should receive more seasoning than the skin side. (6:52)
4. With skillet already heated, pour in olive oil.
5. Place one half of the turkey in the skillet, skin side down. (7:54)

  • Sear the skin half until golden brown (8:20), then flip and cook the other side to a dark golden brown. (9:41)
  • Remove the first half from the skillet, set aside, and repeat step five for the second half and add the wings. (9:56)

6. Sear the vegetables ,except for the celery greens, in the same skillet the turkey was seared in. (11:11)
7. Season with black pepper and Kosher salt. (12:11)
8. Add celery and mix (12:25)
9. Place the wings on top of the vegetables. (12:40)
10. Roughly tear the bread into a one inch cube. (12:47)
11. Place the aromatics (thyme, sage, lemon verbena and bay) on top. (13:00)
12. Place both halves of the turkey on top of the aromatics. (13:05)
13. After about 30 minutes, remove the turkey from the oven and pour the chicken broth around the turkey (not on). (13:30)
14. Cook for another 30 minutes and check the internal temperature of the turkey. The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. The best place to check this temperature is behind the knee of the turkey.
15. For best results, allow the cooked turkey to rest for about a half hour after it has been removed from the oven. (14:16 for finished product)
16. Discard thyme, sage, lemon verbena and bay.
17. Serve turkey and vegetables to your liking.

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