Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s time to think about how you’ll prepare the turkey this year. While baked with stuffing is traditional, it’s by no means the only method you can try. Let’s look at 5 ways to possibly prepare your turkey for Thanksgiving this year.
Braising sears the outside of the turkey and offers thick, rich gravy. Some people will not like this method, because you must cut the turkey into pieces. However, foodies contend braising retains moisture in the meat and makes it tender. For those who find they dry out their turkey each year, braising could be the ideal solution.
To begin braising, you season the meat with salt and pepper, add oil to a heavy pot with a lid, and sear it over medium-high heat. You then remove the turkey from the pot, and stir in chopped onions, celery, and carrots and cook them in the turkey drippings until they’re caramel brown.
Finally, you add braising liquid, scrape loose the brown bits in the pot, and return the meat and its juices. Once it’s heated to a simmer, the lid goes on and it’s into the oven. Here’s a good braised turkey recipe.
Deep-fried turkey originated in the south and it’s now popular in many regions. Some people love it because it’s quick to prepare, but it can also be very dangerous.
Not only is it hard on your arteries, deep-frying a turkey also poses a fire risk. Cooks often add to much oil to the pot or they do not defrost the turkey completely. When they add the turkey, oil overflows and even a small amount of oil on a burner can cause a large fire. Deep-frying a turkey uses at least three gallons of oil, and units can tip over spilling oil on the cook.
Deep-frying in a pot means there’s no thermostat either, so the cook can heat the oil to combustion, especially if they leave the pot unattended. The pot, lid and handle also get extremely hot and oil can splatter and cause serious burns if everyone in the area isn’t well-protected. You’ll also want a wet chemical fire extinguisher nearby appropriate for cooking oil fires.
Here’s a video from Rhode Island’s own The Rhode Show from last year discussing some of the risks with the Chief of Hopkins Hill Fire Department.
Yes, you can cook a turkey on a grill, but it has disadvantages. You’ll need to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches an internal temperature of 165F and you’ll need to collect the drippings for gravy in a disposable aluminum pan or a roasting pan. You’ll also need to cover the bird with cheesecloth for the first few hours so you do not dry out the meat and you shouldn’t stuff the bird either. The smoke and air need to circulate around the meat.
Follow these detailed instructions to convert your grill into a smoker to cook the turkey over indirect heat. You can get incredible flavors from alder, maple, fruit and nut-bearing woods suitable for poultry.
If you own a smoker, you can use it to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. Some people brine their turkey before they cook it to moisten the meat and add flavor, but it isn’t required. If you do decide to brine your bird, it should be done the day before cooking.
Once again, you do not stuff a smoked turkey, because the air and smoke need to circulate around the bird.
Smoking uses low temperatures, and it takes time. However, smoking a turkey outdoors means your oven is free for other dishes. You can follow these instructions for preparing and smoking a turkey.
This is one of the speediest ways to prepare a turkey, although it won’t look anything like a traditional bird. However, this method ensures even cooking, moist meat, and a crispy skin.
Spatchcocking is basically butterflying the bird. You remove the spine and lay it flat. It looks odd in the pan, but if you’re carving it before you bring it to the table no one will know anyway. You can follow the detailed instructions here.
No matter how you decide to cook your turkey, keep you and your family safe and defrost the turkey in the refrigerator to avoid Salmonella poisoning. Follow the USDA guidelines for proper methods and thawing times. You might be tempted to try deep-frying, but your fire department and insurance company will probably recommend you try a safer method.