By Pamela Jacobs
Brined, fried, roasted…stuffed, unstuffed, overstuffed…vegan, spiced, glazed, smoked…you know you’ll be having turkey this Thanksgiving, that’s for certain; but in which way it will be served, that is the question. Gone are the days when turkey was served one way and one way only: dry, overcooked, and unloved. There are as many ways to trim, truss, and stuff a turkey as there are crazy relatives who will show up to eat it. This year, why not try something new?
Brine Your Bird
In the past five years or so, you’ve probably started hearing more and more about brining: it infuses the turkey with moisture and flavor, and has become quite popular. Here’s one popular brining recipe: 1 cup kosher salt; 1/2 cup light brown sugar; 1 gallon vegetable stock; 1 tablespoon black peppercorns; 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries; 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger; 1 gallon heavily iced water. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. Combine the brine and 1 gallon ice water in a 5-gallon bucket. Place the turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. Cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining. Then season, cook, and enjoy! (Courtesy of Alton Brown/The Food Network)
Everything’s Better Deep-Fried
You can pretty much deep fry and shoe and it’ll be delicious. So why not take the holiday turkey to new levels by infusing it with a few hundred (or thousand?) extra calories. This is a tricky one though—you’ll need outdoor space (do not do this in a Manhattan apartment) and a turkey fryer. If you don’t have these, find a relative with a backyard and a love of oil. First things first, season your bird. Then fill a turkey fryer with 3-5 gallons of oil (do not fill it more than ¾ of the way, this can cause a fire), heat the oil to 350 degrees, very carefully lower turkey into the fryer, completely submerge it, and fry it for 3 minutes per pound, plus an additional 5 minutes per bird. Remove, drain, and go nuts.
Too Stuff or Not to Stuff
So when it’s stuffed into the turkey, it’s naturally called stuffing. When it’s not stuffed, it’s called dressing, Either way, it’s delicious. There are countless varieties: traditional herb stuffing, cornbread stuffing, sausage stuffing, wild rice stuffing, bacon jalapeno stuffing, and the list could go on. If you do decide to stuff your bird, it will be filled with delicious turkey flavor, but you’ve got to be careful to make sure it’s fully cooked and safe to eat. Be sure to cook all ingredients in the stuffing before they are placed in the bird. Do not overfill the turkey—use about ½ to ¾ cups of stuffing per pound of turkey. Finally, do not stuff the bird the night before, do it immediately before cooking.