|How it's done!|
OK enough silliness, here are some tips on cooking the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey.
Step 1 - Go to your local Marriott and enjoy their Thanksgiving buffet, they will enjoy cooking for you and you won't have to clean up! Better yet, spend the night with your AM buddy the night prior at the 'rott (that's what we used to call back in the day) and just meet the Fam there on Thanksgiving Day.
But seriously here are some tips:
Tip 1 (Fry It): If you have a portable fryer there is no better way to cook a turkey than to fry it; but if you have a portable fryer you probably already know that. If you don't have a portable fryer it is a nice investment! Everything is better fried, I tend to think! Make sure you put the turkey in first and then add oil or else you might spill oil everywhere and always use a smaller turkey if you are frying (less than 12#'s). Also the turkey needs to be completely thawed as ice crystals from a frozen turkey can hurt frying oil. And take the neck and giblets out first for Christ sakes!
The good thing here is that in a fryer at 400 degrees your bird should cook in about 45 minutes and will be much more tender and juicy than when cooked in an oven. Frying automatically accomplishes all that you are doing when basting. The high heat sears the outside locking in the fats which create the moistness/tenderness.
If you want more flavor inject the turkey before frying with the normal ingredients such as puree of onion, celery along with sage, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, or even cajun' spices if you want to feel like you're on the Bayou! Or even pack an onion with poultry spices and pack the onion inside the turkey.
Tip 2 (Brine it): If you do not have access to a fryer the next best thing is to brine your turkey. First, make sure your turkey is completely thawed. Remember a 20# bird may take a few days to thaw so don't do this last minute like me! Purchase a brining bag from your market and put your bird in, breast down. I would recommend getting a brining kit with spices and just follow directions.
But as a guideline do the following for a basic 10 to 12# turkey.
Bring 12 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup salt, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup cider vinegar, 2 tbs sage, 2 tbs rosemary, onion powder, peppercorn melange, poultry seasoning, and bay leaf (if preferred). Boil and stir for about 20 minutes and allow to cool. Place turkey into bag and pour brine over turkey and then add 4 cups of ice. Seat bag with breast down and leave in refrigerator for 2 days.
Cook using basic instructions below.
Tip 3 (Bast it): If you are going to do it the old fashioned way I suggest you take the time to bast and understand that the best way to cook meat is "low and slow!"
If you are industrious separate the skin from the breast meat (without removing and stuff butter, fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, and other desired spices between the skin and the meat. Additionally, you may want to consider cooking breast side down which allows for automatic basting and more tenderness (the fat gravitates down through the breast meat).
Once you are ready to cook. Put your bird in the oven at 475 for about 20 minutes. That will sear the outside. Then turn your oven down to 250 and cook for an additional 20 minutes per pound. For example for a 12 pound turkey cook an additional 12#'s * 20 minutes/# = 240 minutes = 4 hours.
Check your bird every 20 minutes and with a cooking syringe suck up your juice at the bottom of the pan and pour back over your bird.
Check out this great New Yorker article about the great American bird. In fact this whole issue is basically dedicated to cuisine!
And to settle an age old questions, does turkey really make you sleepy? Well, the answer is MAYBE! Turkey does have a high concentration of an amino acid Tryptophan which makes serotonin and melatonin which can cause drowsiness. But many doctors would say that turkey does not create enough serotonin and melatonin to really have any greater impact than your slice of pumpkin pie. So for you lurkers out there I would not use it as a substitute for "ruffies." However, I still do get sleepy after dinner, but it may be due to all that cooking and cleaning! :)
Happy Thanksgiving to All!