Don't stick with a plain old bird this year. Try one of these ten ways to cook turkey instead.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's time to start thinking about the feast you're going to prepare. If you think turkey always has to be the same year after year, you need to keep reading.
Here are ten different ways to cook turkey, each with a delicious recipe to try. You're going to like these so much, you'll be cooking turkey once a week.
1. Roast Turkey
A Thanksgiving tradition, the roasted turkey is the standard in American dining rooms. Easy and tasty, the roasted turkey can be flavored a number of ways to enhance flavor.
At its most basic, wash the turkey, stuff it and preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Rub the outside of the turkey with oil, butter, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake according to size.
It really is that easy. If you are not stuffing your turkey, roast it breast down to ensure the meat stays juicy and tender.
2. Deep Fried Turkey
Although it's not the healthiest way to cook turkey, deep frying your bird sure makes it taste great. Another bonus to deep frying is that it takes minimal time to cook.
Most recipes call for about an hour compared to four to six hours of roasting. Since this frees up your time and your oven, it's well worth considering. Just be careful. Turkey fryers have been know to catch fire relatively easily. Always use them outside and never leave the deep fryer unattended.
3. Smoked Turkey
One of the best things about smoking a turkey is the different flavors infused in the meat from the wood chips. Smoking also keeps the meat moist and smooth.
Although it can take longer than roasting, the unique flavor and texture you get from smoking a turkey makes it worth the wait. Plus it keeps the turkey and the mess out of the kitchen. Don't worry if the meat looks a little pink. As long as the internal temperature is 165 degrees, it's fine. Sometimes there is a chemical reaction from smoking that can change the color of the flesh.
4. Grilled Turkey
Don't put that grill away yet. Grilling your Thanksgiving turkey is a great way to cook it considering it frees up your kitchen and adds a grilled crispiness to the meat.
But don't think you can put this on the fire and forget it. Whoever is in charge of cooking the turkey has to spend quite a bit of time with the charcoal. It's hard to keep the grill at a consistent temperature and a meat thermometer is an absolute necessity. But once you taste it, you know it's well worth the effort.
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5. Beer-Can Turkey
Beer and turkey. They go together so well, why not combine the two for your Thanksgiving feast?
Set your turkey upright with a beer can shoved into the cavity before placing it on the grill. The beer and added seasonings steam into the center of the bird, adding flavor and moisture to the bird while the grill gives it a nice crisp. The combination is absolutely fantastic and this very well may become the only way you cook turkey.
In case you've never heard of this Thanksgiving phenomenon, the turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck which is stuffed with a chicken. It's the ultimate in fowl.
It might not be the easiest thing to make, but if you're a meat lover, there's no better options.
7. Brined Turkey
If you aren't putting your turkey in a brine before you cook it, you're making a mistake. Using a brine not only infuses the turkey with flavors, it also ensures the meat stays moist while cooking. Once you taste all the seasonings and herbs in the meat, you'll be mad at yourself that you haven't been doing this for years.
Just be sure the turkey stays cold while it's in the brine, you don't want to spoil the meat before you get a chance to eat it. A cooler and ice can be used if there isn't enough room in the refrigerator.
8. Crock Pot Turkey
If you're going to cook a turkey in a crock pot, you need to make sure the bird is small enough to fit. A small turkey can cook for six to eight hours and retain an unbelievable amount of moisture. By doing it in the crock pot, you can prep it early and forget about it until it's time to set the table.
9. Braised Turkey
Braised turkey might not fit in with your Thanksgiving image of a whole stuffed bird sitting in the middle of the dining room table, but maybe it's time to start thinking outside the box and consider it.
When you take apart the meat of the turkey and braise it, you're guaranteeing the meat stays moist, delicate and falls right off the bone.
10. Bacon-Wrapped Turkey
Who doesn't love bacon? Wrap your turkey in bacon and watch as the meat melts in your mouth. By wrapping the bird in bacon, the pork fat drips down into the white meat while it cooks, keeping it moist and giving it a fantastic bacon flavor.
- Start thawing your turkey a few days before Thanksgiving. The safest way is in the refrigerator, but it can take four to five days to fully defrost a frozen turkey.
- When you turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, it should be done. Check it in multiple spots to be sure. When it's ready, the juices should run clear.
- Your turkey cooks more evenly if it is not crammed full of stuffing. For the best flavor, do the stuffing in a casserole dish and place fresh vegetables or herbs in the turkey instead.
- Let your turkey rest for at least 25 minutes before you carve it. This insures the flavor sets and makes the meat easier to cut. If you're worried about keeping it warm, put a foil tent over the whole bird. It can stay warm up to an hour this way.