Turkey is often the star of the meal during the festive season, whether on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Follow our step-by-step guide and discover four easy and delicious ways to prepare this succulent meat.
It doesn’t get much more traditional than roasting a turkey in the holiday season. One of the most important things to remember at the very beginning is to completely thaw the frozen bird. You can then gather your herbs and spices to your own particular taste; salt and pepper are pretty standard choices, but after that you can choose onion, garlic, rosemary, oregano, sage…it’s hard to go wrong. You can even rub white truffle butter under the skin of your turkey for a unique twist. Always rinse the turkey thoroughly under cold water and pat it dry, and place it in the roasting pan, breast side up. You can then use olive oil over the skin to brown it nicely, and season it with your chosen ingredients. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh, making sure it does not touch the bone. For an 8 to 12 pound unstuffed turkey baked at 325F, allow around three to three and a half hours in the oven.
Crock pot turkey
Yes, you can cook a turkey in a crock pot, or at least a turkey breast. Instead of cooking an entire turkey for Thanksgiving or any other occasion, slow cook a turkey breast in a crock pot. The meat will be juicy, flavourful and elegant enough for any dinner party. Choose a 3 ½ to 7 pound turkey breast with skin on. Baste the entire breast with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Place a quartered onion and apple into the turkey’s cavity, then put the breast in a slow cooker with the breast side facing up. Pour white wine or chicken broth over the turkey and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. At three hours check that the thermometer has reached 140F and cook for another two to three hours or until the temperature reads 170F. Remove it from the slow cooker and broil it for 5-7 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Serve with traditional accompaniments.
Deep fried turkey
Deep frying a turkey has become an extremely popular cooking method, particularly around Thanksgiving. It takes less time than conventional methods, such as using the oven or a rotisserie grill, and that means more time spent with family and friends. You need an 11 pound turkey, cayenne pepper, and oil with a high smoke point like peanut oil. Season the turkey thoroughly with the cayenne pepper, and then prepare to fry it. It is recommended that you do this outside in a dry, well ventilated area and not near anything flammable. When preparing your cooking pot, make sure it is completely dry. Place a thermometer in the oil and allow it to heat to 350F and carefully lower the turkey into the oil. Allow 3-4 minutes of cooking for every pound of the turkey. Once the turkey begins to float to the top of the oil, allow it to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should be at least 170F in the breast and 180F in the thigh. Remove and serve.
Smoking is a great alternative outdoor cooking method to grilling, and smoking a turkey, although not a task for the impatient cook, can lead to delicious results. You will, of course, need a smoker before you can give it a try; then buy a turkey and thaw it completely. Once the turkey is thawed, rub a generous amount of oil or butter over the entire bird, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and any other desired seasoning. Pre-cook the turkey in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes then light your smoker. The optimum temperature for smoking a turkey is around 230F. Check the smoker every hour or so to maintain the heat and smoke, and add more charcoal, wood chips or water as needed. Your turkey will need 25-40 minutes per pound to smoke. When you reach the minimum smoking time, get a quick reading with your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh area. The turkey will be done when the temperature is 165F. If the turkey is not done yet, let it cook for another 30-45 minutes before checking again. After removing, let it rest for around 30 minutes before carving.
For more culinary inspiration, pick up the current edition of “Flava,” culinary magazine.