Cooking a Turkey: Alternative Methods to Classic Roasting
Thanksgiving will be here before we know it!
There are so many ways to cook a turkey, but most people only choose the traditional baking option. Here are a few others that you should try out, some of which will shock and amaze you.
Grilling Your Turkey
A grilled turkey is cooked over direct heat. This gives it a charred and crispy skin. If you’re a grilling junkie, this is the way to go. The cooking technique will also make your Thanksgiving a bit more laid back.
Unlike most preparation methods, the grilling method requires you to break down the bird first before you cook it.
So, prepare the breasts, leg quarters, thighs, and wings.
Next, fire up the grill and season and bread the bird. Throw the pieces on the grill. One thing that’s nice about this method is that it doesn’t take all day. In an hour or two, you’re done and you have an amazing meal.
Whoever heard of an oil-less turkey fryer? But, it is a thing. People who are trying to watch their calorie intake are switching to an oil-less frying method.
It’s a great way to cut calories and it tastes great. For this to work, you’ll need something like the Big Boss™ Oil-Less Fryer – a new-fangled cooking contraption that fries food in its own juices.
It produces a moist bird with crispy skin, but without any oil residue that you usually get with fried foods.
For traditionalists, there’s no substitute for oil-based frying. Deep frying a bird can be incredibly fun, but also a little bit dangerous. The oil needs to be hot – 250 degrees. Once the oil gets to that temperature, slowly lower the bird into the oil and bring the temp up to 350 degrees. Once there, hold it. Make sure the bird is fully submerged.
This will usually mean lowering the gas on the pot (reducing the temperature) and letting the oil sort of oscillate around 350.
Once the breast meat reaches 151 degrees, it’s done. Don’t worry about being lightly under-temp when the bird comes out. The residual heat will bring the bird up to 161, which is the perfect temperature for turkey.
A word on preparation: do not, under any circumstances, dump a wet or even slightly moist bird into hot oil. You could start a serious and raging oil fire.
When you’re seasoning and preparing your bird, make sure that the last step is a very thorough pat-down. It should be dry when it goes in. Very dry! If you doubt your drying ability, dry it as best as you can, and coat the outside with a bit of oil.
Smoking produces one amazing turkey. If you choose this method, make sure you brine your bird so that it doesn’t dry out.
Smoking is a tricky process. You need to get the coals up to about 250 to 300 degrees, but no hotter. Place some wood chips or chunks into a cast iron pan and set them right on top of the coals.
White smoke is creosote and carbon and will produce an overly smoky and acrid taste. Wait for a thin blue stream of smoke to come out the top. Now you’re ready to start smoking. The bird is done when the internal temp hits 160. Pull it and let the residual heat bring it the rest of the way up to temperature.
Turkey is a rather dry and mild-flavored meat. If you’ve ever cooked a turkey before, you know just how susceptible it is to drying out. This is where brining comes in. By soaking it in a salt-water solution overnight, you will all but eliminate that drying process. Your meat will turn out lightly salted, moist, and delicious.
This method of preparation is ideal for cooking methods that are inherently drying, like smoking and baking or roasting.
Tressa Martinez is a home economist. She loves sharing her experiences on the web. Her posts can be found on many home living and lifestyle blog sites.