Saturday, November 15, 2008

Talking Turkey: Jennie-O Offers a Fool Proof Turkey

We've hosted a few Thanksgiving dinners in our home, and with the exception of last year's, they have been unmitigated disasters.

Our first Thanksgiving away from extended family the turkey didn't thaw according to instructions. Not noticing the total lack of pliability, we put it in oven as instructed (not removing any of the extra parts inside the bird). After a long day of cooking, we found a mushy disaster. We tipped the content of the roasting pan into the garbage and high-tailed it to the only local grocery store still open for pre-cooked ham.

The year before Ranger was born Jim and I spent weeks planning an elaborate menu that was Martha Stewart in its vision. We even included individual compote-stuffed acorn squash for each guest.

Our guests arrived hours early, just in time to be here when the oven caught fire. We ate each dish sequentially (as they now had to be heated in our tiny, EasyBake wattage microwave) in the slightly smoky dining room. Needless to say no guest present has ever suggested us hosting Thanksgiving again.

When Jennie-O contacted me that they had an idiot-proof turkey available, I wondered how far our reputation as destroyers of Thanksgiving had traveled. Their miracle turkey could go straight from freezer to oven without cleaning, thawing, marinating, or prepping for roasting.

Our Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey came boneless, skinless, and frozen. We removed the exterior bag to find the turkey in a roasting bag. We placed the roasting bag in an ovenproof dish and cut 3 small slits in the bag.

The turkey then went in the preheated oven for about 2 hours, emerging as an easy and flavorful dinner. The pop-up timer signaled the end of cooking (and popped around the same time our meat thermometer hit the recommended inner temp of 170 degrees). The thermometer was much easier to use in the Jennie-O Oven Ready turkey breast than in a conventional bird (where you need to avoid the bone). [Video of cooking instructions]

When we cut off the roasting bag, there was enough juice to make a homemade gravy, but it wasn't necessary. Jennie-O includes a packet of gravy mix (add water and heat on the stove). We should have started the gravy before the turkey came out of the oven, but we did not. Instead, driven by the savory scent of turkey, we microwaved the mix.

The turkey was surprisingly juicy and tender. The seasoning was mild, but delicious. Jennie-O's Oven-Ready Turkey was our first successful turkey. These fool-proof gobblers could save future holidays here, and the boneless turkey breast makes a hearty weeknight dinner.

Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkeys can be found year-round at Safeway (Dominicks, Genuardi’s, Vons), Jewel, Super Wal-Marts, Ralph's, King Sooper, Acme, Schnucks, HEB, Meijer, Winn Dixie, Publix, Hy-Vee, Super Target, Fry's, Von's, and some Kroger and Super-Valu Divisions. A 12 lb. whole turkey costs $28, a 5 lb. bone-in breast costs $17, and the 2.75 lb. boneless breast retails for around $13.

Jennie-O turkeys can be ordered online, but their heavy shipping weights and need for expedited shipping translate into considerably higher costs.

Even if you're an expert poultry chef, you can enter Jennie-O's Trauma or Triumph Sweepstakes to win a month of free groceries from Amazon, an iPod nano, a camcorder, and Netflix or iTunes gift cards.

What holiday cooking disasters have you experienced?


Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

that looks yummy!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I can't imagine EVER buying something like this. Turkeys are not difficult to cook. And who wants gravy from a bag?

adrienne said...


Um, obviously turkeys aren't that hard for YOU to cook. That doesn't mean I can cook one.

This product may not be for you, but for others (like me) it might actually be helpful.

Liz Remus said...

Is this a whole turkey or just a breast? I did a breast one year for just my husband and I and it was the perfect size.

adrienne said...

Hi liz:

Jennie-O sells individual turkey breasts (like the one we fixed) as well as whole turkeys in the Oven Ready format.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting on this, I've been wondering what to do this year. I've disappointed myself year after year trying everything from traditional to deep fried (yummy but didn't like the seasoning and effort and cost) to crockpot turkeybreast. I'm glad I read about this option, I've tried everything else, why not this next?!

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the Baby Toolkit blog?

I would never serve anything like this to my family, let alone my children!

Do you not care what is in these heavily processed food items?

adrienne said...

Hello anonymous-

Yes, this is the Baby Toolkit blog.

And, yes, apparently I will eat this turkey and thoroughly enjoy it. I'll even write about it on my blog when I know I'm disappointing vegetarian friends and beloved foodies alike.

Life is full of decisions. I've obviously already made my mind up about this turkey.

Anonymous, I'm not sure what you expect of me.

I'd be happy to discuss this further by email if you would allow me the opportunity to address you directly.

Anonymous said...

Here are my Thanksgiving options:

1) Don't have turkey
2) Have a Jennie-O turkey

Last year, we had a Jennie-O turkey, and by God, even though we ingested some preservatives, we're all still here today, and we're not even sick.

It was very good, and easy, too.

Jennie-O is not targeting foodies with this product. They're targeting people like me, who haven't the time, inclination, or talent to cook a turkey from raw. And anyway, ew.

Good review, thanks!


Annie said...

I am kind of shocked by some of the scathing "anonymous" comments left about this post! If it's so easy to cook a whole turkey, Anonymous #1, then why does Butterball have a help line, and why are there so many TV shows, etc. dedicated solely to cooking this big bird? I say, do what you've got to do, and be thankful for what you have... after all, isn't that what the holiday is about in the first place?

Thanks for the post, Adrienne, I'm sure you're helping a lot of people get dinner on the table this Thanksgiving!

Michael Phillips said...

I swear, some of my friends live in a completely different reality than I do. You've really never gotten a turkey to work right? They are one of my favorite dishes because I have only ever found one way to seriously mess one up. (On the other hand this year has hosted a series of questionable pumpkin pies where I usually make wonderful ones. I think I just fubared the one I was going to make for tonight by adding too much salt. I got cocky and added it without measuring. A real shame because it was going to be my first turbinado based real custard pumpkin pie. (The pie in my fridge was my first turbinado pie, but it is vegan and thus hardly counts.))
Some day we'll have to figure out why turkeys just don't work for you and figure out if we can get around that problem.

Diane said...

I Love making these Turkey breast. Sometimes there is just the 3 of us, my Son, Husband and I.
My Son is still single and certain times I make 2 2.75 lbs. so he can have the left overs. It comes in handy for someone that works 7 p.m to 7 am. I Didn't care for the Gravy. so I use something else, or I make my own. I am also surprised that this wouldn't work for some people. Believe me this is the fastest, easiest, and moist turkey I ever made. Even a single young man can make this, which he has. My Question, when making more than 2 at a time do I have to cook them longer, just so I have an ideal.