At one time or another, home cooks have either done it themselves or known someone who did — forget to take the turkey out of the freezer early enough to thaw it properly before cooking the holiday dinner. Or worse yet…are just too afraid to tackle the meal’s centerpiece.
If the idea of cooking a holiday turkey is scary or you’re just looking for an easier way, Jennie-O Turkey has a new line of whole turkeys called “Oven Ready” that doesn’t require much more effort than pre-heating the oven, putting in the frozen turkey, and then waiting several hours until it’s done.
I was skeptical at first, because as we all know, it’s “against the rules” to put a solid frozen turkey in the oven to cook. But Jennie-O has figured out a way to do it using a fresh-frozen, pre-seasoned turkey in cooking bag, and the final result was surprisingly good.
I prepared my 11-pound “Oven Ready” turkey according to package directions. It took a bit more than four hours to cook at 350 degrees, and I admit I had to fight the temptation to remove it from the oven sooner, based on the normal time it takes to cook a thawed bird that size. (Though the turkey has a pop-up thermometer, I suggest using your own meat thermometer to ensure doneness because remember, it started out completely frozen.)
After resting, the turkey was very moist and flavorful. There was also enough residual juice to make gravy, if that’s your preference—and why on earth wouldn’t it be?
If there was one minor drawback, the cooking bag prevented the skin from getting as brown and crispy as I personally like. Realizing that the skin was not crisping up, I modified the package directions by cutting away the top half of the bag in the final 30-40 minutes of cooking to help crisp up the skin and deepen the color. It worked just fine.
I also would have liked a bit more of the seasonings (like thyme) that I’m accustomed to, but overall, the final product was quite good. And though I never cook stuffing (or “dressing” as we call it here in the south) inside the turkey, you cannot do that with the “Oven Ready.”
All in all, the Jennnie-O “Oven Ready” turkey can make the holiday meal a little less stressful.