Three Thanksgiving Turkey Preparations for this Year’s Holiday
If you’ve seen the videos of fried Thanksgiving turkeys (occasionally gone wrong), or a family gathering centered around smoking a giant Thanksgiving bird, you might be interested in embracing a new method of preparing this year’s feast. According to geographical region and family heritage, Americans consider vastly diverse methods and dishes to be “normal” Thanksgiving fare. While deep-frying a turkey may be considered a glorified stunt to some, roasting a whole turkey until it’s brutally dry might seem just as crazy to a practiced deep fryer.
At Rosso & Flynn, we’re all about making the exotic seem familiar. To us, food markets and traditions are waiting to be rediscovered and shared among modern consumers.
We interact with customers and food fans with traditions from across the country, and in discussing holiday preparations with a wide audience, we know there are too many versions of “normal” to discourage trying something out-of-the-box this Thanksgiving. If you’re stressed over finding dried-out white meat when you carve this year’s Thanksgiving turkey, consider an alternate method to remove the mystery and bring new flavors to your family table; it just might be the new norm in your family kitchen.
8-Piece Turkey Roast
Without having to learn a new cooking method, breaking down the turkey into its eight sections prior to roasting takes a chunk of stress out of preparing the Thanksgiving feast. With smaller portions of meat and the resulting increased surface area, required time for brining and seasoning is significantly reduced, When the separated turkey goes into the oven, the mystery of tracking internal temperatures throughout different sections of the whole bird is removed. This allows for greater texture control with increased confidence in the doneness of each piece. With the help of a butcher or at home, remove the wings, legs, and backbone (save the backbone with some vegetables for chicken stock). Split the breast and separate the thighs from the drumsticks, and season all oven-bound pieces. You’ll be able to cook quickly and at a much higher temperature (as high as 450 degrees), but keep in mind the breasts will take longer to complete than the smaller bits. Stay close-by with an instant-read thermometer, and enjoy the hours you’ll save compared to cooking the bird whole.
Nothing says Central Texas cooking like oak-smoked meat, and Thanksgiving offers a chance to show off serious skills around the pit. While using the 8-piece approach can simplify the turkey smoke down to a couple of hours, the whole-smoked bird makes for an impressive sight, with all the flavor advantages of long, low-temperature smoke treatment. As with any smoking project, be sure to use a pit or rig you’re familiar with; because the turkey is so thick from skin to center when smoked whole, you’ll need to be prepared with a well-controlled fire or familiar electric setup. Of course, a quality instant read thermometer is your best tool for ensuring doneness, and a glaze or vinegar mix helps to transform the skin into a caramelized treat over the length of the cook. Whatever your smoking setup, maintain an ambient temperature of 225 degrees and plan for 30 minutes per pound of turkey. All setups are different, and your thermometer is the only method to accurately assess the doneness of the bird. When the turkey reaches 165 degrees in the center of the breast, remove from heat, rest, and enjoy.
Deep fried turkey is a wonderfully juicy, decadent treat cased in a deep brown fried skin, prized equally for taste as for the precarious (and too often disastrous) means by which the cook is achieved. All jokes and internet videos aside, heating a large volume of oil to the necessary temperature for frying invites very serious risks to health and home, and the entire process should be conducted with dedicated caution. For those proceeding, two easily avoidable mistakes can save a hassle (or the family home). First, repeatedly ensure that your turkey is completely thawed and absolutely free from ice that might hide in the bird’s cavity. Water mixed with hot oil means a steaming, dangerous mess, so any attempt to rid the bird of moisture is welcome. Second, to determine the amount of oil needed, place the raw turkey in the frying pot, fill with cool water until the bird is covered, remove the turkey, and mark the resulting water level as the desired oil level. Overflowing hot oil turns into a blaze that can’t be put out with water. For the fun part, heat the oil to 325 degrees and safely submerge the bird, turning off gas each time the turkey is moved (so that any splashing or dripping oil has no fire to land in). Reheat oil and maintain temperature between 325 and 350 degrees, for 3.5 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Turn off gas, remove bird, allow to rest, and enjoy a true holiday delicacy.
However you decide to prepare this year’s bird, an excellent product begins with a the highest quality animal. Buy pasture-raised, antibiotic-free Thanksgiving turkeys from Rosso & Flynn.