Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Roast Turkey

The Fujimotos love turkey.

When I came into the family, it was the first thing I noticed--Turkey was my mother-in-law's signature meal, along with her Cheese Macaroni, and my father-in-law carved it like a surgeon.

As they're getting older, my mother-in-law no longer cooks the turkey and my father-in-law doesn't do much carving anymore.

Bachan has simple instructions on how to cook a turkey.

Cook the turkey with the breast down, 20 minutes per pound if the turkey is stuffed, 15 minutes per pound unstuffed in a 325 ºF oven.

Very simple instructions, and it comes out juicy and moist every time.

The first thing you do is wash the turkey and take the neck out of the large cavity and the giblets out of the smaller neck cavity.

Put them aside, you'll be using them later.

Pat the turkey skin dry with paper towels and rub about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over the skin of the turkey.

Season the skin with salt and pepper.

I prefer a dressing casserole instead of stuffing the turkey, so I don't stuff it.

You can put carrots, onions and celery into the cavity of the turkey along with a bouquet of rosemary, thyme and marjoram if you like.

I made this simple turkey a few weeks ago for a Thanksgiving meal request--I had been cooking once a week for my friend Gwenn's sister Diane as she was going through chemotherapy treatments, and this meal was the last one I made for her in celebration her cancer free body scan.

Put the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan with the breast down and the wing tips tucked in and use a small skewer to close the neck cavity.

Tent the turkey with foil and put into a 325ºF oven.

This turkey was 16 lbs. and roasted for 4 hours.

After you've got the turkey in the oven, put the neck and giblets into a large pot with half an onion, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 bay leaves.

Simmer gently for at least 2 hours and remove from heat.

If you want a nice presentation of the turkey on a platter, you can turn the heat up to 400 for the last 30 to 45 minutes, turn the turkey breast side up, and baste the turkey with the juices in the bottom of the pan every 15 minutes.

That will make the skin brown and crispy.

After you flip the turkey to breast-side up, cut the leg ties apart.

I usually don't do that because when I cut the turkey up, I take all the skin off and serve it buffet-style, so the skin doesn't matter.

Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes covered with foil before carving.

It looks anemic, I know, but nobody will see it but you.

While the turkey is resting, make the gravy.

Pour the drippings from the pan into a measuring cup.

I do that so I can see how much fat there is, and it makes it easy to control how much fat goes into the gravy.

This turkey didn't have a lot of fat, about 1/3 cup, so I skimmed the fat off with a small ladle and put it into a 5 quart pot for the gravy, with the heat on medium/high.

Skim the rest of the fat off the top and discard, only having the brown drippings left.

You don't need a lot of fat for gravy.

You don't want the big clumps of fat in the bottom of the pan, skim those out and remove them, but you do want the crisp drippings.

Add a little water and stir with a whisk to loosen the crispy bits and add to the measuring cup.

Here's the fat from the drippings.

Don't worry if a little of the brown juice gets into the fat.

Add an equal amount of flour and stir until bubbly.

Watch the roux so it doesn't burn--stir over medium heat until golden brown.

Turn the heat to medium/low and then add what's left in the measuring cup, stirring constantly.

When that is evenly combined and bubbly, add the stock from the giblets & vegetables about a cup or two at a time, adding about 6 cups of broth.

Bring to boil over medium/high heat, stirring to insure a smooth consistency.

Bring to a boil and skim off the foam.

Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Check the consistency of the gravy.

If it's too thick, add some water, a little at a time.

If too thin, mix a slurry of 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add, a little at a time, stirring constantly, to reach desired thickness.

Gently simmer for 10 more minutes so the cornstarch is cooked.

If you like giblet gravy, finely chop the giblets and neck meat and add--when I make giblet gravy I like to mash up the carrots, onion and celery too and add it to the gravy as well.

That's how my mom makes giblet gravy--it's got little orange flecks in it from the carrots.

Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

I'm not good at carving, I kind of saw at the turkey.

I like the slices on the thick side, my in-laws like it cut thin--that's how Jichan carved it.

Seiichiro likes the leg.

A couple of years ago, Karen made pumpkin pies from scratch.

Karen and Mitchell are celebrating Thanksgiving this year in Florida with Mitchell's family.

We miss them, but they'll be home for Christmas.

Beeto and Rick make the deviled eggs,

And spam musubi.

As you can see, Beeto is a lot of fun.

There's lots of photo ops with everyone in the kitchen.

My brother Warren is famous for his fruit platter.

Gordon's stretching to be taller than his brothers.

Do all brothers do this?

Ken's a little on the quiet side--the kids like to try and draw him out and gain new insight into Uncle Ken.

Reiko always makes the mashed potatoes.


Amy is one of the hardest workers in the family, always helping and keeping the kitchen clean.

Thanks, Amy, we'll miss you, Gordon, Leslie & Kelly this year!

Auntie Nancy works hard and is a lot of fun!

That's Nancy's husband Bill in the background--Uncle Bill is UB for short.

Auntie Lorraine is camera shy.

She and Rick share the same birthday.

These photos were taken a few years ago when Karen worked for Guitar Hero and it was at the height of popularity.

All the cousins had lots of fun together singing and laughing!

The kids loved making Uncle Ken the singer.

Yes, even I played!

Gary and I sang Hotel California, one of my favorite songs of all time.

I sound a lot better when I'm singing alone in my car!

Wes got married this year, so he and Connie will be coming over together!

Their rule was:

Separate holidays until we're married.

Now they'll be covering both sides on the same day.

That's Cody in the Dodgers hat.


We miss you!

Please come for Christmas!

The food is always good because everyone brings something--whether it's their signature dish or they've tried something new and want everyone else to try it--but we don't really remember the food.

The best part of Thanksgiving is having the whole family together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

No printable recipe.


  1. Looks super yummy. I wanna come to your house for thanksgiving :). We are off to my in-laws tomorrow morning.

  2. Hey
    Looks like there is a lot of love in your family
    all the best to you & yours
    keep the faith :)

  3. There's so much heart in your blog, I just love reading it. Thank you!