Suddenly it's Thanksgiving. The weather has been so mild that it just sneaked up on us. A lot of people get stressed out about Thanksgiving; family (relative humidity), travel, shopping and of course, how to cook the bird. There are lots of options based on your time, patience and desired outcome. Here are four cooking methods and a quick video carving lesson to make the day easier.
Roasting is the tried and true method, but we like to step it up a bit to ensure a fantastic finished product. Preheat your oven to 425°. Yes, that is NOT a typo, 425°. First, stuff the cavity with some love. We like lemons, oranges, herbs, garlic and a glug or two of white wine or stock. Second, gently slide your hand between the breast meat and the skin separating the two. Slather this nook with butter and herbs. This will help keep your bird moist and bring lots of flavor. Third, truss the bird. This can seem daunting, but this short video by Alton Brown will simplify. You might need to watch twice, but I strongly suggest...no, require that you truss your bird. Truss me, you will not regret it! Place your bird on a rack, slather skin with butter or extra virgin olive oil and season generously with kosher salt, pepper and other herbage if desired. Place in that 425° oven for 30 minutes, this high temp will all but guarantee a crisp mahogany skin. After 30 minutes, drop oven temp to 350° and continue to roast, basting with warm chicken stock every 30 minutes until internal temperature reads 165°. (Total time to roast a 14-16# turkey is about 3 hours.) Now let the bird rest at least 30 minutes before carving. Carving intimidating? Short how-to video at the end of this blog.
Deep Fried turkey tastes great, is moist and cooks really fast. The key to deep frying is to not burn down your garage or spill hot oil on the relatives! Seriously, if you're planning on deep frying for the first time this year, then please watch this video to learn the proper method for safety.
Smoking has become my preferred method for cooking a turkey. Follow the same instructions as roasting for filling the cavity and trussing the bird. Then, get your grill ready, (charcoal preferred). Select your desired flavor of smoking chips. Apple, cherry, and mesquite are popular. Pear works well too. Soak the chips in warm water for at least an hour, this will allow them to smoke instead of just burning. Arrange your coals on one side of the grill and place an empty foil pan underneath where your bird will be placed to catch oils and drippings. Start your fire and let it burn down quite a bit. We're looking to smoke at 180°—200°, no higher. Add your bird to the grill, toss a handful of chips on the coals and close the lid, leaving a bit of venting so the fire won't go out. You should start to see and smell smoke. Now relax, have a cider, beer or glass of wine. Check back on your bird in an hour or so, add more chips, baste the bird with stock or beer. Close the lid and continue relaxing. Repeat until internal temperature of bird reaches 165°, approximately 3-5 hours for a 12-14# bird. Remove from grill, cover loosely with foil and let rest for above mentioned 30 minutes.
Spatchcock. Strapped for time? Family fighting over who gets the crispy skin? This method is for you! Spatchcocking means to flatten, so with this method you are butterflying the bird to flatten it out, thus greatly reducing the cooking time. Follow our seasoning tips mentioned above after you flatten the turkey. It's quite simple and is also a great way to cook an entire chicken. Here's a short how-to video.
Finally, click below to watch a short tutorial on how I carve our bird. Happiest of Thanksgivings to you all and your families near and far! Cheers!