Mom-Friendly, Fast & Easy Turkey Recipe

fast & easy turkey
The main portion of the turkey came out easily with a large pair of tongs.

A fast & easy turkey recipe? You bet! We love turkey, so much so that when there's a special during the year, and it's not Thanksgiving or Christmas... we have turkey. But the drawback has always been the cooking - it takes forever!

My husband recently discovered my uncle's 4-hour turkey (for a 20-pounder), and found that it's delicious and juicy. That's what we planned to do this time with this little 10.5 pound bird, but it's just too darn hot to heat up the oven for a few hours. Not going to do it.

So, what did I do? Well I didn't let it go to waste, that's for sure! I have a huge 16qt pressure cooker {aff} I use for canning meats and veggies and wondered if it was possible to do a turkey in it... and how long it would take. I found (as usual) a nice selection of website from which to choose with information on cooking a turkey in my canner. The site that had the best information was Pressure Cooker Diaries (I'll be visiting them for other ideas), and so that's what I followed.

Before you worry too much if you're not used to using a pressure cooker - they're really quite safe and easy to use. The first time I used mine, I was afraid the lid was going to blow off and hit the ceiling. I'm happy to report that I was wrong about that! As far as choosing one... that's a more personal decision. Mine is ahuge, 16qt model with a weight (no gauge) that my husband thought was ridiculous when it came home. It's been more used than many of the pots and pans we own. I could probably ditch three of the big stock pots if I wanted to. There are any number of different styles available from digital to just a simple weight, to a gauge with the numbers on the dial. I like the simpler models because there's less to go wrong, and they're generally easier to care for. None of them are cheap, but they pay for themselves over the decades if you get a good one.

Here are a couple at Amazon {aff links}:

  • Presto Aluminum Pressure Canner - 16Qt
  • Mirro Aluminum Pressure Cooker - 16Qt (very similar to mine)
The breast meat was juicy and tender, perfectly cooked.
The breast meat was juicy and tender, perfectly cooked. My carvings skills could use some help though...

I found out that cooking the turkey was fairly easy - not a lot of work has to go into getting it prepped, and it doesn't take long at all! In fact, we had turkey cooked, sampled and put away in about 1 1/2 hours. We plan to use it for snacks and other meals during the week, so there was no worrying about making sure it was ready for dinner.

Here's the basic process -

  • Season and then brown the turkey in a smaller pan; it's easier to manage than in the big canner.
  • Put about a cup of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker, I think ours could have used a bit more though, so two cups because of the size of the pot.
  • I threw in some coarsely chopped onion, garlic and a few sage leaves from our garden, and placed the turkey in the pot. Make sure that your turkey isn't so big that it covers up the steam vent on the lid, ours had plenty of room but it's important to be aware of where everything is.
  • Bring the pot up to a boil, then lock the lid in place. Once the button on the lid comes up to tell you that it's under pressure, add the weight.
  • After the weight starts rocking, start your counter. Allow about 3 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey, after the time is up shut off the stove and allow the pressure cooker to de-pressurize naturally. Do NOT remove the weight in order to release the pressure early because the time it takes to do this naturally is part of the process.

Now for the real test: How does it taste?

After the pressure cooker had cooled enough that I could open the lid, we pulled out the turkey and plopped it onto a couple of plates. The legs and wings came off by themselves, and the main section was easy enough to pull out with a big pair of tongs.

The leg meat literally fell off the bone.
The leg meat literally fell off the bone.

My sad carving skills aside, this was one of the best turkeys we've ever had. Every one of us felt like the turkey was excellent, delicious, juicy and flavorful. I think the pressure cooker not only allowed it to cook faster, but forced the juices to stay inside the bird instead of dripping out. When you can have a delicious turkey meal in about an hour, that's a fast & easy turkey!

All in all, this was a great way to cook a meal that normally takes up most of a day. Now there's no excuse to not have turkey any time you want.

I'm saving the bones and skin  for stock tomorrow, and yes, I'll be using the pressure cooker again.

We'll be doing turkey this way again - and again - and again.



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