Busy People's Fun, Fast, Festive Christmas Cookbook
Traditional Turkey
Helpful Turkey Tidbits:
  • To thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, an 8 to 12-pound turkey will take 1 to 2 days. A 12 to 19-pound turkey will take 2 to 4 days and a 20 to 24-pound turkey will take 4 to 5 days.
  • To thaw the turkey in cold water, leave the turkey in its original packaging. Place the plug in the sink drain, put the turkey in the sink, and fill the sink with cold water. Changing the water every 30 minutes, leave the turkey in cold water for half an hour for every pound of turkey. So, if you have a 15-pound turkey, it will take 7-1/2 hours to thaw in the cold water. DO NOT USE WARM WATER.
  • There is no need to add water to the pan when you are baking a turkey.
  • Allowing the turkey to sit for 20 minutes after roasting will allow you to carve the turkey more easily.
Turkey Roasting Timetable  
Thawed and not stuffed. 350 degrees.
Turkey Weight Time
8 to 12 lbs. 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours
12 to 14 lbs. 2-3/4 to 3 hours
14 to 18 lbs. 3 to 3-1/2 hours
18 to 20 lbs. 3-1/2 to 4-1/4 hours
20 to 24 lbs. 4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours

Carving the Turkey

Did you know Butterball has a staff to answer telephone calls about cooking turkeys? The toll-free number for Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is 800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372)
I recommend removing and discarding the skin of the turkey before carving it, because the skin is full of unhealthy fat and cholesterol. Use a large, sharp knife with a pointed end for easier carving.
Sure, a beautifully roasted whole turkey on the throne of his platter decorated with all kinds of greenery and presented to the dining table looks stunning in photos for advertising; however, in my personal experience it has been a mess to carve the turkey at the table, especially with the unrealistic extra clutter placed on the platter. It looks picture-perfect, but in reality, it is perfectly a mess.
I suggest if you want to show off your masterpiece of Tom the Turkey, so so while he is resting. (Resting is the term used to let the turkey sit for approximately 20 minutes so it will help retain more of its juiciness and allow for easier carving.) Set him on the table so he can rest while you finish your last minute meal preparations and bring the remaining foods to the table. Then after prayer, take the turkey to the kitchen to easily carve it within a few minutes on a cutting board by following these simple steps:
1. Hold the end of the drumstick and cut through the meat where the drumstick is attached to the turkey.
2. Pull the drumstick out and back to separate it from the thigh. Use your knife to help cut through the joint.
3. Use a large fork to hold the turkey, and cut horizontally above the wing along the length of the turkey breast. If the wing comes off, that is okay.
4. At this point you can remove the entire breast in one piece by cutting along the side of the breastbone on top, removing the turkey breast, and placing it on a serving platter. Pull off the skin and cut the turkey breast into slices. Repeat with the other side.
5. Or you can slice the breast while it is still attached by placing your knife on top close to the edge of the turkey and cutting straight down.
6. Continue cutting until all of the meat is sliced. Turn the turkey around and do the other side. Be sure to remove the skin before serving the turkey to your guests.
7. Remove the thigh if desired.
Easy Oven-Roasted Turkey with Gravy
One of my assistants, Tina Wilkerson, who has her education in the culinary arts, took half of this turkey home for dinner. Now remember, her husband gets to eat the finest of foods. When he said, "This is the best turkey I've ever eaten," she didn't have the heart to tell him how super simple this was to make. I recommend not stuffing the turkey, because the turkey needs to cook longer when it is stuffed and the turkey will dry out.

1

(15-pound) whole turkey, thawed*

1

tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons water
2-1/3 cups reserved broth from the turkey (after the fat is removed)   pinch of ground thyme
  pinch of freshly ground black pepper    

Thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Rinse the turkey in cold running water and place it in a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish. I discard the neck and gizzards because they are high in fat.
Cover the turkey completely with foil.
Bake for 3 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. If it is available, buy a turkey that has a pop-up timer to let you know when it is done.
After the turkey is cooked, uncover it, turn the oven to 500 degrees, and let it cook for 10 minutes to brown the skin.
Sometimes ovens will have hot spots, so turn the turkey after 5 minutes to evenly brown the skin. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Place the turkey on a serving platter and let it sit for 20 minutes for easier carving.
Pour the turkey broth though a strainer into a bowl and discard any large pieces that are in the strainer.
Remove the fat from the broth by skimming it off with a spoon. Or y ou can place one cold lettuce leaf at a time into the broth, pull it out, and discard it. The fat will stick to the lettuce leaf. Or you can place one bunched-up paper towel at a time on top of the broth, remove it quickly, and discard it. The fat will stick to the paper towel and you can just throw it away.
Pour the broth into a saucepan, add the soy sauce, and turn the heat on medium high.
While the broth is cooking, in a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water.
When the broth is heated, pour in the cornstarch and water, stirring until thick and bubbly.
Add the thyme and black pepper and stir.
Note: The pinch of thyme greatly enhances the flavor of the gravy and brings out the saltiness.
Pour the gravy into a gravy boat or small bowl.
Yield: 15 (4 ounce) servings of turkey and 16 (2-tablespoon) servings of gravy
Calories: 117; Fat: 3g; Percent Fat Calories: 23%; Cholesterol: 44mg; Carbohydrate: 3g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Protein: 19g; Sodium: 207mg; Diabetic Exchanges: 3 very lean meat
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Traditional Baked Ham
I see so many recipes that call for needless, painstaking efforts. Once you see how easy this recipe is, you'll agree. When I tested this recipe using presliced ham, the ham was too dry.

1

(8-pound) fully cooked, hickory smoked, boneless honey ham (Do not use presliced ham)

1

cup cherry cola soda
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple slices in pineapple juice 10 maraschino cherries

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Place the ham in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
Pour the soda over the entire ham in the casserole dish.
In a medium bowl, stir together the dark brown sugar and allspice. Pat the sugar mixture on the ham.
With toothpicks, secure the pineapple rings to the outside of the ham. (I use approximately three toothpicks per pineapple slice.)
Using one toothpick per cherry, secure one cherry inside each ring of pineapple.
Put two pieces of aluminum foil together lengthwise and seal to make a tent. Cover the casserole dish with the aluminum foil tent, securing it tightly around the casserole dish, but do not puncture the foil with the toothpicks.
Bake for 4 to 5 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Let the ham rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.
Pour the ham juice into a small bowl so that guests can serve themselves juice for their ham if they wish.
Yield: 30 (4 ounce) servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes or less
Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours
Total time: 5 hours 10 minutes or less