How To: Close up your turkey

Some holiday advice from the journal Veterinary Record. What's the best method to use for sewing up a turkey after you've stuffed it? Turns out, surgical staples might be your best option. (Actually, this is a trick question: The correct choice is to cook the stuffing separately and break the bird down so you can properly heat the dark meat through without turning the breasts into sad, dry lumps. But I digress.)


  1. I put the stuffing in the bird (and there’s enough for cooking outside too) and I have NEVER had a problem with everything not being cooked through or dry.

    Just keep it covered halfway through the cooking then uncover. 

    1. I agree, although I’d advise keeping the turkey covered for nearly the whole process at 180 Celsius, then once you’re sure the inside is cooked, uncover and crank the heat to 220 C for 10-15 minutes for browning.

      The other good trick is to put stock into the stuffing mixture so that the stuffing is very moist. That way the turkey should be steamed from the inside out as it cooks. Just like beer can chicken, which is the best way to cook a chook.

      1. I don’t use stock, but my stuffing is a very moist cracker stuffing passed down from my grandmother. It’s simple, and really the only stuffing I’ll eat (crackers, thyme, basil, rosemary, hot water. Whole box of crackers, others until it feels and smells right)

  2. I gotta say that Alton Brown’s recipe worked splendidly well for me this year and let me present a whole roasted turkey instead of a pile of parts.

    Throw the carcass into a pot with scrapings from the roasting tray (hopefully lots of veggies) and simmer for a few hours.  Made the best turkey soup ever.  Almost like a stew because lots of veggies stuck to my roasting pan and didn’t get served.

  3. Actually, the proper way to cook a turkey is to lower it carefully into a vat of 350 degree Fahrenheit peanut oil and cook it for about 3 or 4 minutes per pound…

  4. Not to be unnecessarily nitpicky, but a turkey has a breast, not breasts. The image conjured by referring to turkey breasts as”sad, dry, lumps” is…disturbing.

  5. I’ve never had a problem with dry breast meat on an unparted turkey. You just have to brine it first. You can also stitch it, or chicken, up with toothpicks.

  6. Brining is really the key to moist turkey.  I usually stuff the turkey with a moist, sourdough bread stuffing (yes, moistened with broth diluted to 50%, because the brine adds a salty flavor to the meat) and roast it breast-side down for most of the cooking time.  I use Alton Brown’s brine recipe.  I close up the neck and the tail with skewers (works better for me than toothpicks.  Sometimes you have to shield the legs & wings with foil.

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