Old Fashioned Turkey


My time tested turkey recipe requires a bit of work since I brine it for many hours in homemade vegetable broth.  My wife always gives me crap because when I make turkey it turns into a two-day ordeal, requires a lot of ingredients (I make my own veggie broth), and of course leaves a cooler with a bird in it for several hours.

This year I was exploring some other options and learned how they used to cook turkey before they had temperature regulated ovens.  It looks like there’s one recipe I saw on America’s Test Kitchen that I might try this year come thanksgiving.

This recipe is somewhat similar to mine since it requires that you cover the turkey breast for most of the time it cooks.  However, they didn’t brine the turkey.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Minus the brine)

You’ll need:

  • Cheesecloth
  • 1lb Salt Pork (Not smoked)
  • 4 Cups Cold Water
  • 12 to 14 pound turkey

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Take approximately 2 yards of cheesecloth and fold it into 3-4 layers thick with enough area to cover the entire breast of your turkey.  It is not necessary to cover the legs.  This piece of cheesecloth should be about 18 inches square.  Soak the cheesecloth in a bowl filled with water.

Rinse and pat-down your thawed turkey with paper towels to dry.  Place the turkey into the roasting pan and prick the skin of the breast and legs all over with a fork.

Slice the salt pork into approximately ½ inch slices.  Cover the breast and tops of the legs with the strips of the salt pork.  Take the cheesecloth and drape it over the last pork on the breast and legs.  To prevent the cheesecloth from drying out and burning, cover the cheesecloth completely with foil.

Roast the turkey until the breast meat registers 140 degrees F.  This should take around 2.5-3 hours depending on the size of your turkey.  Remove the turkey from the oven and discard the foil, pork, and cheesecloth.  In order to get that delicious golden color, set your oven to 425 and continue to roast until the breast registers 161 degrees.  This should take another 40-60 minutes.  Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover with foil, and rest for 15-30 minutes.