Do you have a Thanksgiving Day meal planned for your family? Maybe you prepare the turkey the same way every year. Traditions like that can be very special as well as comforting. But if you're looking to try a little something new this Thanksgiving, I have some ideas on how to cook your turkey in a non-traditional way. Enjoy!
- Roasting: Rinse the parts of the raw turkey. Rub its skin with your favorite spices and put it in the oven on a roasting rack for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for another 2 hours and 45 minutes.
- Braising: To braise a turkey, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of salt in two gallons of cold water. Immerse the turkey in this mixture, cover, and put it in the refrigerator for four hours. Remove the turkey from the mixture, pat it dry with paper towels, and put it in the pan with onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in a 500-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Take the turkey out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Pour broth over your turkey and into the pan so it reaches about three quarters of the way up its thighs. Cover it with foil and cook for another hour and 45 minutes. The turkey is done when the temperature of the thickest part of its thigh is 170 degrees.
- Deep-Frying: First, wash your thawed turkey and set up your turkey fryer outside. Put your turkey in the fryer and pour water on top of it until it's covered, then take the turkey out and make note of the level of water. This is how much peanut oil you will need to deep-fry the turkey. Remove the water, pour in the peanut oil, and heat it to 350 degrees. A turkey requires 3 minutes of frying per pound. After the turkey is finished, put it on paper towels to soak up excess oil. And remember, NEVER fry a frozen turkey that hasn't been thawed; putting a frozen turkey into hot oil can cause it to explode.
- Grilled: Preheat your grill to 350 degrees. Wash the turkey and rub it with your favorite spices. Next, put the turkey on the grill and close the lid. Your cooking time will be about 11 minutes per pound of bird. Put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey breast. It is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
- Smoked: Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in a smoker is an easy process. Of course, you have to have a smoker that can do the job. Put a little pepper and salt on your raw turkey before putting it in the smoker. The cooking time here is 30 to 40 minutes per pound of bird.
- Beer Can Turkey: This is a fun way to cook a delicious turkey using your grill. Start with a half-full can of beer and pour your favorite spices right into the can. Wash the parts of your raw turkey, set the beer can on a pan, and place the bird on top of it: The opening of the beer can should be up inside the bird. Rub the outside of the turkey with more of your favorite spices. Next, place the turkey inside a grill heated to about 375 degrees. Cook for about an hour, then turn the bird around in the grill and cook for an additional hour. The beer and spices in the can add flavor and keep the inside of the turkey moist. Take care when removing the beer can at the end of the process: The can and the beer inside will be hot.
- Spatchcocking: This method involves removing the backbone of the turkey, rubbing its skin with spices, and putting it into the refrigerator overnight. Cook it in a 450-degree oven for an hour and 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 170 degrees when stuck into the thickest part of the turkey's thigh. This method helps your turkey to cook evenly and more quickly than other methods.
- Turducken: Making turducken involves stuffing a turkey with a chicken and a duck. This method for Turkey Day is one of the more time-consuming options, but it's a delicious change of pace.
- Stewed: A stewed turkey is an option if you want to keep the meat as moist as possible. This cooking method takes about two hours and 20 minutes. I like the idea of enjoying carrots, peas, onions, and other vegetables with the turkey in one dish.
- Sous Vide: Do you want to sous vide a turkey this year? If so, you must commit 16 hours to the process. Vacuum-sealing the turkey in a pouch and cooking it in a hot water bath can help the bird to cook more evenly than it might in a conventional oven. If you're feeling adventurous this year, sous vide may be for you!
The best way to defrost your frozen turkey is to put it into the refrigerator. Be sure it's on the bottom shelf so it won't drip onto other foods in your fridge. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey.
The amount of time you cook your turkey depends on the weight of the bird. It breaks down to about 15 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey.
I hope you try something new for your turkey dinner this year. Thanks for reading! - Alan