Friday, November 20, 2009

Turkey with no legs...

Last Thanksgiving I was with my husband and his family when my sister-in-law, Jillian, called. She was away with friends for the holiday and wanted to be sure she knew how to correctly cook the turkey. I could only hear my mother-in-law's side of the conversation; but she was telling Jillian to be sure she first took the neck and giblets out of the turkey. There was a pause, and obviously something was wrong. Mom repeats, just make sure you get the little bags out, yes, right between the turkey's legs. Another pause... (then I could hear though the phone) "BUT MY TURKEY DOESN'T HAVE ANY LEGS!" I nearly fell over laughing as we all realized she had bought a turkey breast - not a whole turkey!

Does this sound like something that could happen to you? Then this is your blog post! After this hilarious story (hopefully Jillian doesn't murder me for sharing it) I thought I'd pass along some turkey tips for our culinary challenged friends.

First, select a turkey sized appropriately for your guests. You'll want 1 - 1.5 pounds of turkey per guest. If you're having a small crowd or it is your first try at this, you might want to consider a turkey breast. If you decide to purchase your turkey frozen be sure to have time to let it defrost in the refrigerator. If you haven't gotten your turkey yet... log off the internet and go to the grocery store now so you still have time!

Time needed to thaw a Turkey:

8-12 lbs ... 2-3 days

13-16 lbs ... 2-4 days

17-20 lbs ... 4-5 days

21-25 lbs ... 5-6 days

After your turkey is thawed, cut away any plastic and reach inside to remove the neck and giblets. Only put stuffing inside the bird if you have a quality meat thermometer! You can't rely on the little pop-up buttons as they may pop before the innermost stuffing has reached a safe temperature.

Place the bird in a shallow roasting pan breast side up.
I like to preheat the oven to 450 degrees and bake the turkey at that temp for just 20 minutes, to seal in the juices. Then reduce to 325. (see cooking times below) You can also use the slow and steady method and just start baking it at 325 degrees. Make sure you cook the turkey until a thermometer reads 160 degrees in the center of the thickest part of the meat. Also, check the temperature in the center of the stuffing if you choose to cook it in the bird. Your turkey is cooked when the temperature reads at least 160 in all areas and the juices run clear (with no red).



  • 4 to 6 lb breast.....1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs
  • 6 to 8 lb breast...2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hrs
  • 8 to 12 lbs................2 3/4 to 3 hrs
  • 12 to 14 lbs..............3 to 3 3/4 hrs
  • 14 to 18 lbs........3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs
  • 18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs
  • 20 to 24 lbs..............4 1/2 to 5 hrs


  • 8 to 12 lbs...............3 to 3 1/2 hrs
  • 12 to 14 lbs..............3 1/2 to 4 hrs
  • 14 to 18 lbs..............4 to 4 1/4 hrs
  • 18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hrs
  • 20 to 24 lbs........4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hrs

For Further Information you can contact FSIS Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline.

Friday our own Kim Gallagher taught a class in our cooking school, Anytime Turkey Dinner. Her classes are always well attended and earn great comments from our guests. I thought this would be a perfect recipe to share for anyone looking for an alternative to the traditional thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Roulade with Apple-Cider Gravy

Serves 6


One whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied (5 pounds)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

3 tablespoons pecans

½ cup unsweetened cranberries

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cups), plus 1-cup onion thinly sliced into half moons

¼ cup celery, diced

½ cup apple, peeled cored and diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

¼ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled

3 cups Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing mix

1tablespoons plus 1teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 2teaspoons dried, crumbled

2 ½ to 2-¾ cups low-sodium chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, slightly beaten

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Kitchen twine

1-cup apple cider

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1-teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1-tablespoon cold water


1. Place turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the stuffing. Preheat oven to 325

Degrees F.

2. Toast the pecans in a small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

3. Place the cranberries in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat, drain and set aside.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery and apple. Sauté 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bacon, cook 2 minutes. Add the stuffing mix, 1 tablespoon of sage, 1 ½ cups chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, and egg. Mix and remove from heat.

5. Spread the stuffing over one side of the turkey, leaving about 1 inch uncovered on all sides. Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jellyroll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

6. Place a rack in a roasting pan. Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down

in a roasting pan. Add the half moon onions and a little stock. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7. Roast the turkey for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the center. Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest while you make the gravy.

8. Add the cider, ½ cup of stock, the vinegar and the remaining sage to the roasting pan, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by 1/3, about 10 minutes. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes more. The gravy should not be thick.

Sounds and looks delicious, right? I thought so too - Enjoy!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this as it was very informative!

  2. OMG this just happened to me too. No legs or wings! I'm floored! Lol


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