The Vegetarian’s Guide to Roasting a Turkey

Love inspires me to do crazy things. For example, decide to roast a turkey for my students for an early Thanksgiving Dinner.  My husband and I work at a boarding school, and each staff member chooses a faculty family–a small group of students that we’ll mentor and hang out with over the course of the school year.

Our school serves vegetarian meals.  I’ve never eaten meat.  My husband is ok with that, and I’ve cooked vegetarian at home for 26 years.  Our students aren’t vegetarian, and they miss meat, so a few years ago I decided that because I really do love my students and I want our faculty family to feel like home, I would prepare meat when they come over.

Roasting a Turkey Requires Planning Ahead

A #vegetarian roasts a #turkey for love's sake. Tips for doing it right! Click To Tweet

(No one is paying me to mention their products–I haven’t actually tasted anything and am only basing my opinions on the pleased expressions, comments and compliments of my students).

Lesson One:  Buy your frozen turkey at least four days in advance and store it in the refrigerator.   Frozen turkeys take a LONG time to thaw (and a person can’t just leave it out on the counter overnight–unless you want to send everyone home with food poisoning). I purchased a Safeway’s Open Nature turkey because the label said the turkey had been raised without hormones and on a vegetarian diet.  My students have enough hormones, thank you very much!  And at least the bird and I had something in common.

Lesson Two:  It will take you longer to prepare the turkey than you think it will.  Start early.  Sometimes, the turkey is trussed with Medieval instruments of torture.  You have to remove these metal doohickeys, reach your hand into the cavity and pull.  Something that people don’t want to eat will come out (a neck).  This is another good reason to make sure your turkey has properly thawed (otherwise, you might get frostbite).’t forget to reach into that cavity and pull out the neck.

Lesson Three:  Turkeys need baths and dressing, too.  I read a lot of instructions–some on the packaging the bird arrived in, some from the oven bag box.  All the instructions made me giggle (except the warnings about cooking the bird to a certain temperature–I had my daughter go out and buy a meat thermometer).  Anyone out there an Amelia Bedelia fan?

For the rub, I mixed together 1/2 Tablespoon each of dried basil, sage, thyme and oregano with 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil.  It smelled good, so I used it.Turkey rub via @blestbutstrest

Lesson Four:  It’s ok to cheat.  Buy an oven bag (I used a Reynolds Turkey-sized oven bag) and a disposable roasting pan.  It’s worth the six-dollar investment to be able to wave adios to the leftovers at the end of the meal!

Reynolds Oven Bag via @blestbutstrest

The Vegetarian's Guide to Roasting a Turkey via @blestbutstrest

Lesson Five: Disinfect!  I made sure to spray all the surfaces that touched the raw meat with a bleach solution (including my hands).  I’m not a germaphobe, but caution never hurts.

Lesson Six: Know when to call in the experts.  After baking the turkey for the requisite number of hours based on it’s size, it still didn’t look done.  This goes back to lesson number two.  Everything will take longer than you expect.  The stuffing (which I baked separately so that I could eat it) got a little overdone whilst waiting on the bird. Finally, I asked one of my students to take a peak.  She said it looked done.  Between her and the thermometer, I couldn’t go wrong.

The Vegetarian's Guide to Roasting a Turkey via @blestbutstrest

Lesson Seven:  The joy on the faces of my students as they ate turkey was worth touching raw meat.  We had a wonderful dinner, made some great memories, and everyone said the turkey tasted delicious (moist, full of flavor and perfectly done)–I’ll take their word on it!).

What inspires you?
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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Proud of you! A vegetarian preparing a bird is an act of sacrifice for sure! Glad you chose the hormone-free, vegetarian-fed (they eat grasshoppers like mad so not sure how they keep the grassy meadow grasshopper-free???). The roasted bird looks delicious! You did good, girlfriend!
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: noticeMy Profile

  • Even though I am not a vegetarian, I still do not enjoy handling raw meat. Thanks for the step by step instructions for roasting a turkey. It will be helpful this week.
    Jenn recently posted…Toys on a BudgetMy Profile

  • I have seen a lot of do’s and don’ts turkey lists lately! I need to remember these, because I have never baked a turkey before, but at some point I will need to. Thanks for your candid tutorial.
    Messy Mom recently posted…Famous-ish EncountersMy Profile

    • I think it’s all about the bag–and defrosting it in plenty of time, of course ;). Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • I’m a meat eater and cooking a whole turkey freaks me out! You’re such a trooper to make it for your students…what an act of love!

    Also, your job sounds really cool! What a great way to invest in others!
    Becky recently posted…Peaches and Cream PieMy Profile

    • Ha! Ha! Sometimes, when you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re free to do it with gusto! I think the secret is the oven bag–or maybe the secret is the love ;). It’s an awesome job and I love my students :).

  • Wow, Anita. I’m so impressed! Loved your post with pictures, and your lighthearted comments. You amaze me. Is there anything you can’t do?? 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and for inspiring me! Have a great Thanksgiving, friend.
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…What I Learned This Week – November 22My Profile

    • Oh, believe me! There’s a lot I can’t do! I’m sanguine enough to try just about anything once, though ;). Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and may your day be filled with all the people you are most grateful for.

  • Wow that’s amazing! You are an inspiration!
    Lux Ganzon recently posted…Don’t Stop TryingMy Profile

  • Absolutely loved this post…what a great way to show your love for your “family.” Happy Thanksgiving!
    Amanda recently posted…Give the Boys What They Want!My Profile

    • :). I always love a good challenge! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

  • Popping by to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving! I hope the annual turkey prep goes well. We’re delaying our celebrations for a day due to the weather here, so mine will get brined tomorrow and roasted on Friday.
    Melissa recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: One Year LaterMy Profile

    • Thank you so much for your holiday greetings! I’m a vegetarian, but we’ll be roasting a turkey for the meatatarians ;). My daughter and son-in-law are hosting the dinner this year–and it will be their first turkey. Which reminds me, we’d better start baking those pies! How (and why) does one brine a turkey? I’m really a newbie at this whole turkey thing!

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