Clarification on cooking a turkey in a sack

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Puritan Board Doctor
I just realised that some have misread a part of the recipe that I have posted a few times for cooking a turkey in a sack. I have posted the recipe below and corrected it. The correction pertains that the pan that the sack is placed in for roasting. I wrote roasting pan and some have interpreted that to mean a turkey roaster. That can mess with the heat and consistency of the temperatures in the sack. Use a normal roasting / braising pan. Make sure the sack is not scrunched up. I have even done it on deep cookie sheets and 1/4 sheet pans. If you do that just make sure and transfer it to a deeper pan when you cut the sack open.

Sorry for any confusion :)

I can't divulge the family secrets for our fought over turkey barbecue. But, here is the post I made last year about the best tasting, simplest, wonderful, way to roast a turkey. It was developed somewhere and perfected by my great-grandmother who cooked around four turkey for Thanksgiving every year, in a wood fired stove. The 'no-injection stuff' comment is for real. It will mar the turkeys taste, make the cooking time change, and frankly is a cheat for those who can't cook a turkey in such a manner that doesn't dry it out. (And, yes, it is very possible to dry out a turkey by deep frying. Very easy, that is why injection became common: deep frying without it is a challenge for many people.)

Y'all are crazy. That is way too much work in roasting a turkey. The following is what we do and have done for generations. It is just about foolproof. Every time we serve this turkey to others they want to know how in the world we got such most, tender, and evenly browned turkey. Seriously. It is that good and it is throw it in and leave it alone until it is done.

What you will need:
A turkey
A large brown paper sack ( a grocery sack ).
A stick of butter ( about half of it melted )
Sage or other seasoning
Fruit or onions to put in birds cavity (OPTIONAL)

Here's what you do:
Open the paper sack and coat every bit of the inside surface by rubbing it with the solid butter. It doesn't have to be heavily coated, but it does have to be coated. Set the sack aside. Pull out the giblets from the bird. (You did make sure that it is thoroughly thawed, didn't you?) Set aside giblets for making that dish of heaven, giblet gravy, later on.

If you are going to put fruit or an onion in the bird now is the time to do so. Don't put stuffing in the bird.

Snap the wings of the bird under, akimbo, and tie the drumsticks together if not already done so.
Coat the outside of the bird with melted butter.
Lightly rub salt, pepper, and other seasoning into the butter.
Open the sack and place it on the counter so the seam is up.
Slide the bird into the paper sack on its back.
Close the sack and place about three staples in the edge to keep it together. Fold the close opening over once and staple it shut.
Place the sacked bird on a roasting rack in a roasting pan (NOT a turkey roaster! A normal braising pan or shallow roaster pan is best). A dark pan will lessen the cooking time by about 5%.

Place the bird in the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees. Leave it alone.

Cooking time will be about 3.5 hours for a sixteen pound bird. The following chart is close. The times will trend to the short side because of the steaming action of the sack.

8-12 pounds 2 to 3.5 hours
12-16 pounds 3 to 4 hours
16-20 pounds 4 to 5 hours
20-25 pounds 5 to 6 hours
25-30 pounds 6+ hours

When the cooking time is done (Don't worry. It is very hard to overcook a turkey in this manner; within reason of course. An extra fifteen to twenty minutes is not really going to hurt it. ) take the turkey out of the oven. In the roasting pan will be some juice. That is normal. Use it for gravy. Cut the sack open long way down the middle. Careful, the steam will be HOT. Juice will flow out of the sack and into the roasting pan. Again, get it for use. You will notice that the turkey is browned and the meat is very moist. If you are going to carve the bird at the table let it sit for a few minutes before placing on a carving platter.

This year I cooked a sixteen pound turkey for 3.5 hours. It was phenomenal. I've cooked wild turkeys like this and they are tremendous. It also works well for waterfowl.

It is so very easy and pretty much idiot proof. I've given the technique to very distraught newlywed wives who were almost apoplectic at the thought of 'cooking a holiday meal for his family' many times. I think it might have saved marriages and engendered offspring.


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks! I haven't tried this method yet, but I may sometime.

I cooked a turkey the old-fashioned way yesterday, basting the bird every 15 minutes. My family was quite delighted to have another "thanksgiving" meal in the middle of the week.
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