As we trade in our goblins for gobblers, we seek new, innovative ways to fix everybody’s favorite holiday bird. No matter how it’s prepared, it should be moist, juicy and full of flavor.
No matter which cooking method you ultimately choose, consider brining the bird first. Do this by dissolving a cup of kosher salt in a gallon of warm water. Place the turkey in a large bucket and pour a gallon of ice cold water over it. Pour the warm salt water over that and then fill the rest of the way with ice water. Use a plate or other heavy object to help fully submerge the turkey. Refrigerate for 24 hours. When ready to cook, discard the water and pat dry. Season inside of turkey with salt, pepper and any desired herbs. Brush outside with oil and then season with more salt, pepper and herbs. Cook turkey, breast side up, using any of the following methods.
Roasting provides mouthwatering results with little effort. Once the turkey is rinsed, patted dry and rubbed with vegetable oil and seasoned, it is ready for the oven. Start at 425 degrees until the skin begins to brown and then drop the temperature to 350 until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Stuffing the turkey has some hazards. Since the stuffing also has to reach 165 degrees, the meat, especially the breasts, could be dry before the stuffing is safe to eat. For best results, prepare the stuffing separately.
Over the years, deep frying the bird has become a popular Thanksgiving Day ritual. While it can yield tasty results, extreme caution should be taken to make sure that the day is memorable because of the delicious bird and not because of the horrendous fire that occurred while frying it. If you do decide to fry the bird, use a turkey fryer or large stock pot. Preheat peanut oil to 350 degrees and then very carefully submerge the bird. Fry for three minutes per pound.
Weather permitting, that old bird can even go on the smoker or the grill. Smoking is a less extreme way to prepare the turkey and produces moist meat and deep, smoky flavor. To do this, soak four cups of wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Drain them and place directly over the coals and cover with a wire rack. Place seasoned turkey on a sheet pan and place over prepared wood chips. Preheat smoker to 250-300 degrees and allow about 20 minutes per pound. Similarly, grill the turkey over indirect, medium-high heat for 2-3 hours until turkey reaches 165 degrees.