Thanksgiving is just a few short days away, and that means that it is also time once again for the turkey to take center stage.
Over the years, people have come up with different ways to cook this Thanksgiving staple, and many of them have proven delicious, although not all of them have proven simple. If you are a beginner, it can be challenging to find a 2018 Thanksgiving turkey cooking recipe that works for you.
This article is going to make the process simpler by showing you the 5 most natural ways to cook Thanksgiving turkey. This list of easiest ways to cook turkey also includes helpful tips that should work to bring out the best flavor of that festive bird.
Now, let’s go to the list.
1. Go Low and Slow with Your Turkey Cooking Method
If you’re just starting out with this whole cooking thing, there’s a good chance that you are overcooking and possibly even burning quite a bit of food in your kitchen.
It’s tough trying to figure out when something or not is cooked when you’re just eyeballing it, and that’s what most beginners tend to do.
To minimize the risk of your Thanksgiving turkey being overcooked, utilizing a slower cooking method may be what you need to do.
For this particular cooking method, the piece of kitchen equipment you will need the most is the crockpot.
Crockpots are mainly used for simmering dishes at a low temperature for a long period of time. Because the item you’re cooking in the crockpot is effectively being simmered in its own juices, you are sure to end up with a juicy cut of meat by the end of the cooking process. That’s especially helpful for turkeys because those birds have a tendency to dry out.
According to The Spruce Eats, any part of the turkey can be cooked well inside a crockpot, but you won’t be able to fit the whole bird in there.
To help you figure out when the turkey is done, you can make use of the ThermoPro TP-07. It even comes programmed with preset temperatures that will help you figure out if a specific type of meat is done, and yes, poultry is among the options included.
Those who will be busy throughout Thanksgiving Day may also want to give this cooking method a try.
2. Grilling a Turkey Is also an Option
Most folks probably don’t think about cooking something for Thanksgiving Day, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t produce a good turkey that way.
The most important thing to do when you’re grilling turkey, and any other type of food for that matter, is to keep the temperature regulated. That sounds tricky, but it really isn’t. You can make use of a grill thermometer to check if the grill is getting too hot or too cool and make adjustments as necessary.
What makes grilling a turkey easier than say frying it is that you are always in control of the temperature and no hot liquid could splatter on to you. Plus, as long as you remember to spice your turkey well before you put it on the grill, you are bound to end up with a flavorful bird at the end of the cooking process.
Keep things simple with salt, pepper, some herbs, and feel free to add some other spices that you have liked in the past. Grilling a turkey may take some time as well, but it will be worth it as soon as you get that first tasty bite of the bird.
3. Spatchcock Your Turkey for a Quick Cook
Never heard of the term spatchcock before? That’s fine. It’s honestly just a fancier way of saying butterflying or splitting open a bird.
To start this process, you have to first take out the backbone of the turkey, which should prove easy enough given how big that is. You can ask someone to help hold the bird in place to make doing this easier. After that, you can just push the bird down flat, and you already have a spatchcocked turkey.
From here, you just have to dry off the bird, season it, and lay it in a roasting pan with the breasts touching the surface of the pan. Once all that’s done, you can place the turkey in a 400-degree oven and baste it every now and then.
According to Esquire, you want to hit 165 degrees with the breast meat, so be sure to keep that meat thermometer from earlier handy.
This is the easiest way to cook a whole turkey in a hurry. The trickiest part is probably when you have to take out the backbone, but even that is a more than manageable task.
4. Roast Separate Parts of Turkey
An alternative method of roasting a turkey involves cooking separate parts of the bird one at a time as opposed to putting the whole thing in the oven.
The reason why cooking the bird this way can be easier is for beginners is again because of temperature control.
Different parts of a turkey have different cooking times, and when they’re part of one big piece, it is obviously easier to overcook one part and undercook another. By separating them into different pieces, you are able to employ varied cooking times to make sure that each part of the bird comes out nice and moist.
This is a more labor-intensive way of cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, but it also increases the chances that everyone at the dinner table will be happy with the piece of the turkey they receive.
5. The Classic Way of Roasting Turkey
Yes, it’s true. Even the classic method for cooking this festive fowl is still included in the 5 most natural ways to cook Thanksgiving turkey.
There indeed is an easy way to roast a whole turkey and the recipe from The Genius Kitchen that is detailed below shows how that can be done.
Step 1: The first thing you need to do is to assemble the ingredients.
- A whole turkey
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of pepper
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons of paprika
- Chicken broth
- Your preferred herbs
Step 2: Prepare the bird by taking out the giblets and then patting it dry. This is also a good time to preheat your oven by setting it to 325 degrees.
Step 3: Pull out your roasting pan and then place a roasting rack on it.
Step 4: Arrange your turkey on top of the rack. Make sure to keep the breast and legs pointing up.
Step 5: Create a compound butter by mixing the garlic and onion powders into it and then smear that on to the flesh of the bird that is located directly underneath the skin. To access that portion of the bird, just slide your hand under the opening of the skin located at the rear of the bird and then slowly work your way in there. Just do enough to lift the skin but not to completely detach it from the bird as you apply the mixture.
Step 6: Take some unseasoned butter and rub that all over the surface of the bird, taking care to cover every inch you can.
Step 7: Season the outside of the turkey and this time, make sure to include the herbs, the salt, the pepper, and the paprika.
Step 8: Pour the chicken broth into the pan. A quarter to a half-inch of the broth covering the pan will suffice.
Step 9: Place some foil over the turkey and then slip it into the preheated oven. Let it cook for about 60 to 90 minutes, and then take it out of the oven.
Step 10: Remove the foil that covers the entire turkey and replace it with bits that will only envelop the extremities such as the legs and the wings.
Step 11: Your goal now is to have the interior temperature of the bird hit 180 degrees. Use the ThermoPro TP-20 for this as it will provide you with readings for both the meat and the oven. Remember to use the setting for poultry to get the most accurate temperature reading. It’s essential to make use of the thermometer because cook times vary from one turkey to the next.
Step 12: This is more of an optional step, but if you want great browning on the bird, you can crank up the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees and let the turkey cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. To ensure that your turkey does not get overcooked, keep a close watch over it if you are going to execute this optional step.
After all of that, you should have a gorgeous and perfectly roasted turkey in front of you. If you want, you can also turn the juices remaining in the pan into a quick gravy.
What you need to do is to remove most of the juices from the pan. Keep only about a cup of the drippings in there and then add some of the leftover stock and some flour to it. Scrape the brown bits that have remained on the pan and melt them into the mixture. Cook the gravy until it takes on a smooth consistency. You can even add some lemon juice to brighten it up.
Cooking a traditional holiday dinner may seem impossible to pull off, but as you can see from the 5 easiest ways to cook Thanksgiving turkey listed above, that is not necessarily the case. As long as you stick to the instructions, work with proper equipment, and use fresh ingredients, a truly delicious and memorable Thanksgiving dinner is something you can make even as a beginner.