How to cook a lot of turkey with one oven
Big family dinner next week :-)
First of all, one great trick is to use your BBQ if you have one. It has to have a lid and a thermometer is very helpful. If you do, it's just like an oven - in fact a great oven.
We used to film cater and we always used it just like an oven. So this is one option where you cook one bird in your oven and the other in the BBQ. Just use the BBQ thermometer and set it to the same temperature as your oven. You can also even rest it in the BBQ to keep it warm while you are pulling the meal together.
If you don't have a BBQ, I would suggest the following:
1. Roast pieces of turkey the day before (e.g. 2 breasts and 2 thighs). Then cool these and place in the refrigerator. Make sure they are cooled a bit before placing in the fridge (uncovered until completely cold, then cover).
2. Next morning, take the turkey out of the fridge to take some of the chill off the meat and leave on the counter about an hour after you place the full bird in the oven. Then wrap the pieces in "oiled" aluminum foil and re-heat in the oven at about the time that the full bird you are cooking on T-day, is about half way cooked (oil the aluminum foil to prevent sticking or use non-stick spray. Make sure that the breast and thighs reach at least 165 degrees for food safety reasons. When they reach this temperature, keep warm for dinner. If you can't fit these pieces in the oven, you could also use a BBQ, or you could even wrap the pieces in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil (tightly sealed) and then poach in a pot of water until you reach the 165 degree temperature. Remember, you are only trying to bring up the temperature of the meat as this is already cooked. Don't boil. Poach (see Submersion Cooking Lesson). You want to slowly bring up the temperature to prevent the turkey from becoming to dry.
3. When ready to slice, start with the pieces and place the sliced meat on the serving platter. Drizzle a little bit of hot stock over the sliced meat and then slice the remaining newly cooked sliced turkey on top (from the whole turkey). No one will know. It will be just as good.
Hope this helps.
PS... really hot gravy is key :-)