Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, but for many people, it’s also a time to stress out about cooking the perfect turkey. The pressure is on as the turkey is often front-and-center during the holiday festivities. Without a big, juicy bird as the main dish, the day just isn’t the same. Unless you are a master chef, the art of delivering a delicious turkey dinner can be challenging but not impossible.
So what’s the secret to preparing a Thanksgiving turkey that will have everyone asking for seconds? In this blog, we outline four ways to serve up a delicious bird that will be the star of the show.
Method #1: Braising Your Turkey In The Oven
Braising is a cooking method that involves cooking food in a small amount of liquid over low heat for a long period of time. When braising a turkey, the bird is first browned in a hot pan, then placed in a roasting dish with a small amount of liquid (usually broth or wine). The dish is covered and placed in a slow cooker or in the oven, where the turkey will cook for several hours. This is a great method to ensure your turkey is tender and juicy.
How To Prepare Your Turkey For Braising
To prepare your turkey for braising, you will need to make sure the turkey is thawed completely, and the innards are removed. Depending on what seasonings, vegetables, rubs, or glazes you plan on using, make sure to prep them before you begin braising.
- Remove thawed turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
- Combine desired ingredients for seasoning.
- Rub the cavity of the turkey with seasoning before stuffing it with vegetables. (We recommend carrots, celery, and onions.)
- Rub seasoning on the outside of the turkey.
- Add chicken stock (or wine) to the roasting pan and set the turkey in the stock.
How To Braise a Turkey
To braise a turkey, make sure to preheat your oven (we recommend 450 degrees F) and place your turkey in a large roasting pan. You will want to keep the turkey in the oven until lightly browned before reducing the heat and adding stock to baste the bird with. Keep your turkey cooking until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remember to baste it regularly by using a ladle or turkey baster to take the juices in the pan and cover the surface of the turkey to help keep the meat moist and juicy.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
- Place turkey, sitting in a large roasting pan, in the oven
- Cook until lightly browned
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees F
- Add stock to baste the bird every 15 minutes
- Cook turkey until the thermometer reads 165
Tools That Will Help with Braising Your Turkey
When braising a turkey, it is important to make sure that you have the necessary things. Here is a list of items that are required for successful braising:
- Large Roasting Pan – A roasting pan is an essential part of braising your turkey without the right pan, you will not achieve the desired result.
- Mixing Bowls – Braising a turkey has many steps, and you will want to have all of your seasonings, glazes, broths, and anything else you need yeast to go when needed. Make sure you have enough bowls to prepare everything.
- Turkey Baster – A turkey baster is the easiest way to apply the liquid juices from the pan to cover the top of the turkey.
- Oven Bags (optional) – An oven bag is used for roasting meats in an oven. The bag helps keep the moisture from escaping, which in turn will keep the turkey meat moist.
Method #2: Deep Fry Your Turkey
Deep frying a turkey is a popular cooking method that can result in a juicy, flavorful centerpiece to your meal. The process involves submerging the turkey in hot oil, which cooks the meat quickly and evenly. Some of the advantages of deep frying a turkey include the fact that it is relatively quick and easy, and that it produces consistent results. Deep frying is a great way to get a turkey crisp on the outside but keep it tender on the inside.
How To Prepare Your Turkey For A Deep Fryer
Deep frying your turkey can be done indoors or outdoors. The method is generally considered to be safe as long as proper precautions are taken to ensure you don’t burn anything or anyone. First, the day before, prepare the turkey by removing the innards and soaking it in brine because you will not deep fry the turkey with spices. A brine is a saltwater solution that is used to prepare food. The most common type of brine is made from water and salt, but other ingredients can be added as well, such as sugar, vinegar, or spices. After the turkey soaks in the brine for 8-16 hours, remove it, rinse it and pat it dry with paper towels. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before cooking.
How To Deep Fry A Turkey
First, you’ll need to heat the oil in a turkey deep fryer. The oil should be hot enough that a small piece of bread dropped in will instantly start bubbling. Carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil, making sure that it is fully submerged. Fry the turkey until it is golden brown and the breast reaches 165 degrees F. When done, remove the turkey from the oil and let it drain on paper towels before carving and serving.
- Let turkey soak in brine for 8 to 16 hours
- Remove turkey, rinse, dry, and let rest for 30 minutes
- Heat oil
- Lower turkey into the oil
- Fry until golden brown and cooked through
- Remove and let it drain on paper towels before serving
Tools That Will Help With Deep Frying Your Turkey
To get the best results, you will need:
- 5-gallon upright container – This is a perfect way to let your turkey soak in brine before deep frying it.
- 28 to 30-quart pot or deep fryer – If you have a professional deep fryer, that is a sure way to achieve great results. If not, a large pot filled with oil over high heat will work.
- Long Tongs or Deep Fryer Basket – The best way to protect yourself from getting burned is to make sure you have a strong, reliable way to lower and raise your turkey from the oil.
Method #3: Throw Your Turkey On The Grill
For many people, the idea of grilling a turkey may seem a bit daunting. After all, turkey is such a large and juicy bird, how can you possibly cook it evenly on a grill? However, with a little bit of care and preparation, grilling a turkey can be quite easy – not to mention delicious!
How To Prepare Your Turkey Before The Grill
The first step to prepare your turkey for the grill is to make sure you thaw it out and remove all the giblets. Next, turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place, then return the legs to a tucked position. Finally, season the inside and outside of the turkey with your favorite herbs and spices.
How To Grill A Turkey
Once the grill is fired up, you will want to make sure to place the turkey breast side up on the grill. If your grill does not have a grease catch, you will want to fashion one from foil to catch the drippings to use in gravy. Grill the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165-180 degrees F.
- Remove innards
- Turn wings back and tuck legs
- Season the inside and outside
- Grill until internal temperature reaches 165-180
- Make sure to catch the grease!
Tools That Will Help With Grilling Your Turkey
For the best results, make sure you own the following items:
- Grill – This one is a no-brainer but makes sure your grill is large enough to hold a full-sized turkey when covered.
- Utensils – Make sure you have the utensils needed to move your turkey to and from the grill.
- Thermometer – A grill is more unpredictable than an oven and isn’t as good at evenly heating. This means that a good thermometer is a must!
Method #4: Smoke Your Turkey
Smoking a turkey is a great way to infuse it with flavor and make it extra tender. The process of smoking a turkey involves slowly cooking it at a low temperature, using indirect heat from smoldering wood chips. This method of cooking yields a moist, flavorful bird that is sure to be a hit at your next holiday gathering.
How To Prepare Your Turkey For Smoking
The best way to prepare your turkey for smoking is to soak it in a saltwater brine overnight. After soaking the turkey, follow these steps:
- Season both the inside cavity and exterior with your favorite poultry rub or seasoning
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan and place directly on the grill grate
How To Smoke A Turkey
Once prepared, Smoke the turkey at a low temperature for several hours. This ensures that the meat remains moist and succulent. Finally, the turkey is cooked at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. The result is a delicious and juicy turkey that is packed with flavor.
- Smoke turkey at a low temperature in a roasting pan.
- Cook until internal temperature reaches 100-110 degrees F
- Once the turkey is done smoking, increase the grill’s temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to cook it at a higher temperature to crisp the skin
- Once the internal temperature reads 165-180 degrees F, remove the turkey and let rest for 30 minutes before carving
Tools That Will Help With Smoking Your Turkey
Stock up on these important items before smoking your next turkey:
- Turkey brine kit – Soak your turkey in your favorite brine kit to ensure it is deliciously flavored.
- Poultry Rub – A rub is a great way to add a little extra kick to your bird.
- Smoker – Your smoker is the most important piece of the equation. Make sure you have a high-quality smoker that is big enough to fit a turkey.
- Wood pellets – Choose a wood-smoking pellet that will give your turkey the perfect smokey flavor you are looking for.
Bonus: Cook Your Turkey Propped On A Beer Can
Beer can turkey is a cooking technique that involves placing a half-full can of beer inside the cavity of a turkey that has been propped upright before cooking. The beer evaporates during the cooking process, helping to keep the turkey moist and flavorful. Some people also find that the beer can add a subtle flavor to the turkey meat.
How To Prepare Your Beer Can Turkey
When you cook beer can turkey, the can needs to be able to fit inside the cavity of the turkey, so it is important to make sure that you fully clean out all of the bird’s innards. Once clear, you can apply any seasoning, herbs, or glaze to the turkey before standing it upright on the open beer can so that the can is inserted into the turkey’s cavity.
How To Cook A Beer Can Turkey
Once the turkey is clean, simply place it on top of an open beer can and cook it on a large grill using indirect heat. It is important to make sure that the can of beer is open so the pressure created by the heat of cooking will not cause the can to burst. As the turkey cooks, the steam from the beer will help to keep the meat moist and flavorful.
Tools That Will Help With Beer Can Turkey
- Beer – When choosing a beer for your turkey, it is important to select one that has a relatively strong flavor. Luckily, Bozeman has a lot of breweries to choose the perfect local beer from!
- Sitter or stand – A stand will help ensure that your turkey does not tip over during the cooking process.
- Thermometer – Make sure your turkey is cooking evenly by changing it with a quality meat thermometer.
We’re Here For You However You Prepare & Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey!
As Thanksgiving approaches, many people start to think about the perfect turkey. How do you make sure the skin is crispy? What is the best stuffing recipe? And how do you keep the meat from drying out? We hope that this blog can be some inspiration for you to create a delicious meal that will be the talk of the table!
It’s never too late to start planning your holiday meal, and if you need the equipment to pull off a one-of-a-kind feast, stop by one of our Owenhouse Ace Hardware locations! We carry a wide variety of grills, accessories, and kitchen supplies that will surely come in handy this holiday season.