When my daughter told me that she was making her (first) turkey in a brown paper sack, I'm sure my reaction was the same as everyone else's- you're what? However, she had heard that this was the easiest way for first-timers to make the most perfect turkey. Paper burns at 451 and we would have the oven set at 375 so there was no worry about it catching fire (so they said). I consulted with some other friends/cooks and more than one had heard of this method. In fact, 2 of them shared stories of grandmothers fixing other things, such as sausage and chicken, in this manner and it came out wonderfully and nobody's house burned down.
We have 2 grocery stores here that have brown paper bags. One of them, however, has a lot of ink/printing on it so I opted for the one that had the least ink. I'm not sure if that matters or not but it seemed to me that it might.
The directions that we used will be posted at the end of this, but it was really a very simple process. And we had a small turkey (10 lbs) to work with which was perfect for the 4 of us. So, the turkey was cleaned, rinsed and patted dry. We sprayed the sack with a squirt bottle til it was damp.
Then she stuffed it with chunks of onion, celery, carrots and garlic.
Olive oil was rubbed all over and then Mr. Turkey went into the pan. Then into the sack....
It was stapled shut.
And into the oven!
Then we got to work fixing way too many side dishes. Holy cow! There was stuffing, squash casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad, gravy and rolls.
I think my daughter now has a whole new appreciation for 1.) her aunt who usually fixes our Thanksgiving turkey 2.) her other aunt who usually fixes the green bean casserole and 3.) her double oven! After we cooked for what seemed like HOURS (wait, it WAS hours...) we were done and so was the turkey. Our timing was pretty awesome, I must stay. The Moment of Truth arrived.......
It was perfect, I tell you!
Tender, delicious and lots of juices for making gravy. If I ever have to make another turkey, I will do it this way. Here is the summation of our entire meal:
Kidd Kraddick's Famous Brown Bag Turkey Recipe
No, this turkey recipe won't burn your house down because you're using a brown paper bag... but it will taste
Okay, experienced cooks…this is geared to first-timers (even though veteran chefs LOVE it) so we present
this recipe as an easy-to-read story!
First, take everything out of the inside of the turkey. There will be a giblet bag and some other stuff-. You don't want to leave that in there. Next, add vegetables to the inside of the turkey. This is easy because the veggies are just for flavor...you're going to throw them away later. You don't even have to peel anything. Take an onion and cut it into quarters. Roughly chop a nice long carrot. Do the same to a couple of stalks of celery. Add several cloves of garlic that you mash between a broad kitchen knife and the counter. Throw it all inside the turkey. Then rub the turkey all over with olive oil. . . not butter because butter usually has salt in it and that will dry out the turkey. Salt is the enemy of a moist turkey! Make sure the whole bird is covered!
Put the turkey in a roasting pan and cover the whole thing with a large brown paper bag. Staple it shut. If
you have a huge turkey, use two bags, sliding one end of the turkey into one bag and the other end of the
turkey into the second bag. It won't stick to the bird because of the olive oil. Sprinkle the bag all over with
water to help it breathe. Place into pre-heated 375 F oven, ON THE MIDDLE RACK.
The bag won't burn because paper burns at 451 and we're at 375 degrees. The advantage of the brown
paper bag over the Reynolds's cooking bag is that the paper breathes so the turkey roasts. In the Reynolds
bag the turkey steams, giving it a different taste. Also the brown paper bag retains the same advantage of
the plastic cooking bag...no splatters all over the oven.
Roast for 14-16 minutes per pound. (Add 2 minutes per pound if you live in the mountains.) When you think
it's ready, shove a meat thermometer through the bag and into the turkey and give it a minute to register.
Make sure it doesn't touch the bone. The thermometer should register between 165-171 degrees.
Remove from oven, cut away the bag and remove from basting pan. Don’t throw out the drippings! To make
the gravy, strain the pan juices from the pan into a really big pot. Any juices that accumulate on the turkey
platter get poured into the pot.
Add six oz. of boiling chicken broth and 1/8 cup of corn starch to the gravy to thicken it up. Cook at low heat
and stir. If it seems like it isn't going to be thick enough, add a little more corn starch.
Okay, now your questions-----
Question: Can I use one of those disposable foil basting pans?
A: Yes. It doesn't matter.
Question: What about the talk that brown paper bags are unsafe for cooking?
A: If you mean unsafe because of fire, it is important that the bag doesn't make contact with the heating
element of the oven. If you mean because of the recycled paper bag releasing toxins into the turkey, all we
can say is that this recipe has been around for over thirty years. We've been posting this recipe for over ten
years and never had a single complaint that anyone got sick. We've had hundreds and hundreds of emails
that it's the best turkey they've ever tasted and the perfect recipe for first-time chefs!