Usually, when people think of a Thanksgiving turkey, they imagine the traditional oven-roasted bird. This method of cooking a turkey is fine and dandy, but it is not the only way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. I am including roasted turkey in this list, but there are also three other delicious ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. Hopefully this will help you in determining which method you want to use this Thanksgiving.
This is the most common way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey. “Simply” thaw, clean, season, and bake! Of course, there are exact temperatures, weights, and baking time to take into consideration, which is why this method often results in a slightly dry, over-cooked turkey. Be sure to completely thaw the turkey (visit here for turkey thawing instructions) and know the exact weight after the giblets removal before roasting. Bake the turkey in a 325 degrees F oven for about 3 hours, until a meat thermometer reads 175 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh.
Because this method involves a saucy marinade, the turkey tends to be juicier then roasted turkey. If you tend to overcook your roasted turkey, this might be the method for you. Once you make or purchase your marinade (which should be acid based, such as with wine, citric juice, or vinegar), soak your turkey in the marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours. While baking in the oven, be sure to occasionally flip the turkey to ensure even marinade distribution. The best marinated turkey that I’ve had was cooked in a Southern Comfort, wine, and butter marinade! I am now a firm believer in this method.
Deep Fried Turkey
You might think of deep fried turkey as greasy and unusual, but if you’ve had a properly deep fried turkey, you will know that it is far from greasy and unpleasant. In fact, it is tender, moist, and absolutely delicious. However, this method is more complicated and requires a 40-60 quart pot, a basket or turkey frying hardware, a candy thermometer, a meat thermometer, a propane gas tank and burner, plenty of oil, a fire extinguisher, and heavy duty pot holders.
Fry your turkey outside away from wood or concrete (or anything that you don’t want to catch on fire or leave grease stains). Heat your oil to 325 degrees F and fry for three minutes per pound of turkey. If you want added flavor, you can inject a marinade a half hour before cooking.
Rotisserie Grilled Turkey
If you have a large enough grill, this might be a fun way to cook and enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey. After thawing and cleaning the turkey, secure the bird to a hefty rotisserie skewer. Be sure to tie up the legs and wings. Remove the grill’s grate and place a drip pan filled with some water in the middle. Fire up and heat the grill, then plop the skewer into place. Cooking time is close to that of a bird in a 350 degrees F oven, but check the internal temperature and make sure it is 185 degrees F before removing from the grill. If you want to add more flavor, use hickory or alder wood chips.