How to Sew Up a Turkey After Stuffing It

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String is a traditional material for trussing a turkey.
String is a traditional material for trussing a turkey. (Image: Maulsmasher/iStock/Getty Images)

Once you've completed the messy job of stuffing a turkey, you're faced with the dilemma of how to keep all the stuffing in the bird. The answer is trussing, the sewing up of the cavity of the turkey. Of the several methods for trussing, all involve tying it up with twine to form a compact package that cooks more evenly. With practice, you can have the turkey tied up in no time and all the delicious stuffing secured.

Things You'll Need

  • Poultry skewers
  • String
  • Scissors

Sewing the Cavity

Set the turkey on the counter with the opening to the stuffed chest cavity facing you. Find the flap of skin that once encased the turkey's neck. Fold this down over the opening and the stuffing.

Pierce the skin on the right side of this flap with the sharp point of a metal skewer. Slide the skewer over and into the flap. Thread the skewer back out of the flap and through the skin on the left side of the slap. Position the skewer so you have one end of the skewer sticking out on each side of the turkey.

Repeat with a second skewer, positioned 1 inch below the first skewer. Add a third skewer if necessary, 1 inch below the second.

Cut a piece of kitchen twine 2 feet long. Lay the twine with the center over the center of the top skewer. Bring the ends of the twine beneath the ends of the top skewer.

Cross the string over the top of the second skewer and bring the ends around and under the ends of the second skewer. Cross the ends again and lace under the ends of the third skewer. Bring the ends together a final time and tie a knot. Cut the excess string.

Trussing the Bird

Set the stuffed turkey on a clean countertop, breast side up. Grasp the wings at the second joints -- the elbow -- and tuck the wings under the bird.

Cut a piece of clean cotton string or cooking twine approximately 4 feet long. Place the middle of the string beneath the short stub of the turkey tail.

Cross the string over the top of the tail and wrap the ends of the string around the ends of the drumsticks. Cross the string again and pull it tight so the drumsticks cross. This will help keep the stuffing in the bird. Wrap the string across the thighs, binding them securely to the side of the bird's body.

Turn the bird over, breast down. Find the ends of your string and run them beneath the first joint of the folded back wings. Fold the flap of skin down over the neck of the bird. Cross the ends of the string and tie a secure knot to hold the neck flap in place. Snip off excess string, but leave a couple of inches on either side to make it easier to find the string once the bird in baked.

Tips & Warnings

  • To untruss the bird, cut the knot with sharp scissors or a knife and gently pull the string loose. Slide out the skewers.
  • Make sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit when cooked inside the turkey.

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