There are many versions of this recipe floating on the internet, but one of the most referenced is from the late Kidd Kraddick who shared the recipe year after year on the radio and continues to be shared in his honor.
This recipe is great for a couple of reasons. First, the bag won’t burn because paper burns at 451ºF and this turkey is roasted at 375ºF. The advantage of the brown paper bag over the typical cooking bag is that the paper breathes so the turkey roasts. In the cooking bag, the turkey steams thus giving it a different taste. Also, the brown paper bag retains the same advantage of the plastic cooking bag with no splatters all over the oven.
• Large turkey (Tip: Don't get too big a turkey or it won't fit in the bag - stick to 10-12lbs)
• 2-3 stalks of celery
• 1 large carrot
• 1 onion
• 2-4 cloves fresh garlic
• Olive oil
• Roasting pan
• Brown paper bag(s) – may need 2 depending on turkey size
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Prep turkey by removing the giblet bag and any other parts left inside the bird.
3. Rough chop vegetables. No need to remove any peels as these vegetables are used for flavoring only and will not be eaten.
4. Add vegetables to the inside of the turkey.
5. Rub the turkey completely with olive oil. Avoid butter because it 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!
6. Put the turkey in a roasting pan and cover it with a large brown paper bag. Staple shut. (Note: If you have a very large 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.
7. Sprinkle the bag all over with water.
8. Place into pre-heated 375ºF oven, ON THE MIDDLE RACK.
9. Roast for 13-15 minutes per pound. When you think it’s ready, insert meat thermometer through the bag and into the turkey and give it a minute to register, making sure it doesn’t touch the bone. The thermometer should register between 163º-170ºF.
10. Remove from oven, cut away the bag and remove from basting pan but don’t throw out the drippings. These will be used in your gravy.
• Drippings from turkey roasting pan
• 6 ounces chicken broth, boiling
• 1/8 cup corn starch
• Large pot
1. Strain the pan juices from roasted turkey into large pot.
2. Add boiling chicken broth and corn starch to the gravy to thicken it up.
3. Cook at low heat and stir until heated through and at a desired consistency. (Note: If gravy seems too thin, add a little more corn starch.)
What about those plastic cooking bags? I’ve heard of many Thanksgiving cooks who swear by the Reynolds cooking bag, but that seems to steam the turkey instead of roasting (the paper bag actually breathes a little air, changing the results). The Reynolds’ method works just fine, but I like the taste of the paper bag version better.
Will the bag set on fire? No, the oil keeps that from happening, but it can get a slightly smoky toward the end of roasting so turn on the vent or open a window a crack. Remember only use vegetable oil and NOT olive oil.
Aren’t there chemicals in the paper bag that are dangerous to your health? Maybe, but folks have been roasting the turkey this way for 30 plus years, and they are still here. And besides, there are probably chemicals in that Reynolds cooking bag or even aluminum foil, too. We won’t even talk about hot dogs. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!